New York Yankees veteran reliever CC Sabathia dominated a tough Seattle Mariners lineup proving that there is still some fight left in him.
That thought was perfectly justified given the extent of Sabathia’s struggles entering play that night.
In his last 11 starts leading up to being handed the ball in Seattle, the lefty owned a 6.78 earned run average with 77 hits – 13 of them being home runs – surrendered in 65 innings of work.
With that, his season ERA climbed from a respectable 2.71 during his resurgence to a distasteful 4.49 as he seemed the final chapter of his Yankees’ career was being written right before his very own eyes.
Then, however, came Tuesday night when he had to face a potent Mariners’ offense that entered play ranked first in all of Major League Baseball with 195 runs scored off southpaws in 2016.
After almost a dozen starts of being lit up, Sabathia reverted back to the style gave him the utmost success in the beginning of the season.
His fastball and cutter painted corners to perfection, his slider buried righties and swooped away from lefties, and his changeup died in front of hitters.
Using that formula, the former American League CY-Young award winner struck out seven and surrendered just one run for the first time since shutting down the Minnesota Twins on June 16 at Target Field. In his last three starts, the former ace has 26 strikeouts.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 24, 2016
Vintage Sabathia also faced the minimum in four of the seven innings he pitched, allowing just three hits and walking one.
“We know how frustrating this (Sabathia’s slump) is because of what kind of competitor he is,” Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi told the NY Post. “He was able to locate his pitches and avoid some bad breaks.”
Funny thing about Girardi’s last statement is that Sabathia might have had a zero ERA on Tuesday if it weren’t for a bone-headed play in right field.
Leonys Martin hit a lazy fly ball in the bottom of the third with one out against a then-perfect Sabathia that dropped in near the line and kicked away from right fielder Aaron Judge, who was trotting slowly towards it. Martin ended up at third with a triple and with the infield in, Ketel Marte squeezed a single through the middle that knotted the game up at one apiece.
Thanks in large part to a Jacoby Ellsbury homer and a 3-for-4 night from Ronald Torreyes, however, the Bombers were able to ride Sabathia’s gem all the way through and now have a chance to win the series against one of the many teams ahead of them for the second Wild Card spot.
“It comes down to location for CC, and avoiding some of the bad breaks that he gets,” Girardi told MLB.com. “And tonight we got him some runs, too. That always helps, too. I know what his ERA is, but I’m going to tell you, he’s pitched a lot better than that ERA, I really believe.”
As New York sits five games out of postseason play with 37 games remaining in the regular season, and they could sure use an Andy Pettitte-like workhorse who know has a firm grasp and knowledge of his decrepit arsenal to help guide them there.