Sabathia gem ends six-game skid
That was not the old CC Sabathia on the Camden Yards mound for the Yankees Wednesday night but rather the CC Sabathia of old, the stud they counted on to stop long losing streaks. Reaching back into his past, the 6-foot-7 lefthander provided an outing worthy of a true stopper.
With seven shutout innings, Sabathia did his part in making the Yankees’ six-game losing streak history. Mixing his best changeup of the season with sliders, sinkers and cut fastballs and aided by three double plays turned behind him, Sabathia held the Orioles at bay and kept the Yankees in the game long enough to figure a way to get to Orioles starter Tyler Wilson, who matched CC in throwing up zeroes over the first five innings.
The Yanks’ feeble offense of late awakened in the sixth with the help of some needed breaks. Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones’ failure to get the ball out of his glove after a catch of a Carlos Beltran fly ball gave the Yankees a run as Jacoby Ellsbury, who had a perfect night in his 1,000th career game, was able to score from third. Brian McCann got the first of his three RBI with a single, and a throwing error by Wilson on a Starlin Castro squib in front of the plate accounted for another run.
The Yankees turned on the juice by batting around in the eighth against the Baltimore bullpen to produce four runs on a two-run double by McCann, a two-out, RBI single by Didi Gregorius and Brett Gardner getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Gardner came out of the game in the ninth and may not play in Thursday night’s finale. Fortunately, X-Rays on Gardner’s right triceps were negative.
The 10-hit attack came on a needed occasion with Alex Rodriguez going on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right hamstring. Beltran took over as the designated hitter with Adam Hicks starting in right field. Hicks was 0-for-4 and was the only Yankees player who did not get to run around the bases.
Ellsbury was 3-for-3 with two walks and two stolen bases. Gardner singled, scored a run and drove in one. Beltran had a sacrifice fly, a double and scored a run. Mark Teixeira reached base four times with a single and three walks and scored twice. McCann had two hits and three RBI. Gregorius had a hit, a run and an RBI. Even slumping Chase Headley had a single.
The 7-0 victory was the Yankees’ first shutout of the season on the winning side (they have been blanked twice).
The lone hiccup was that of Kirby Yates, who took over in the eighth inning and loaded the bases with one out on a double to Manny Machado and two walks, a cardinal sin for pitchers working with a seven-run lead. Manager Joe Girardi would have preferred to stay away from Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller in this game but had no choice but to bring in Betances, who has had a rough trip but ended the threat with a called strikeout of Chris Davis and getting Mark Trumbo on a foul pop.
Sabathia deserved every bit of run support the Yankees could give him. In his 203rd start for the Yankees, which tied him with Tommy John for 15th place on the all-time franchise list, Sabathia improved his career record against the Orioles to 19-7 with a 3.35 ERA, including 11-6 with a 3.63 ERA at Camden Yards. Much of Sabathia’s success in Baltimore was back in his prime. Since the start of the 2012 season, CC had eight winless starts at Camden Yards before Wednesday night.
Since joining the Yankees in 2009, Sabathia has won all four of his starts with the club trying to stop a losing streak of five or more games. His record on those occasions is 4-0 with an ERA of 0.86 over 31 1/3 innings in which he has allowed 21 hits and six walks with 30 strikeouts.
In his seventh start with the Yankees May 8, 2009 at Baltimore, Sabathia pitched a four-hit shutout — the 11th shutout of his career — to stop a five-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory. He ended a five-game skid May 31, 2013 with a 4-1 victory over the Red Sox, his fifth career game with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks. Two and a half weeks later June 16, 2013 at Anaheim, Sabathia halted another five-game losing streak and took a shutout bid into the ninth inning in an eventual 6-5 victory.
Wednesday night was like old times.