Yanks still waiting for ace-like work from CC
It was a pretty somber clubhouse Friday night, as you would expect. A 6-4 loss to the Rays was not the way the Yankee wanted to open this homestand. With the Orioles playing on the West Coast, the Yanks faced the possibility of waking up Saturday in second place in the American League East for the first time in three months.
For the Yankees to survive this division race that grows tighter by the day, they will need CC Sabathia to pitch like the ace he has been since his arrival in 2009. That has not been the case, however, for four consecutive starts in which he has surrendered leads in each game.
Friday night’s advantage was only 1-0, but there was a time when that was sufficient for CC. He struggled through the fifth inning and allowed three runs on three hits, two walks and two wild pitches. One of those walks was to .193-hitting Carlos Pena.
“That’s when the inning got away from him,” manager Joe Girardi said.
“I’m not making pitches when I need to,” Sabathia said. “When I get a lead and give it up against someone like David Price, that’s tough. Every game I right now is crucial. My arm feels good; my body feels good. I’ve just got to get back to pitching the way I know I am capable.”
Price, an AL Cy Young Award candidate, added to his credentials with seven strong innings. The score was 5-2 Rays when the lefthander exited as Rays manager Joe Maddon did the Yankees a favor by making a pitching change that I found questionable. Tampa Bay was coming off a 14-inning loss that completed a three-game sweep at Baltimore and had fallen four games behind in the division race. This was as big a must-win situation as the Rays could have, yet Maddon let Price call it a night and brought in Joel Peralta!
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez could not have said “Thank you, Joe” loud enough with a double and a home run, respectively, in the bottom of the eighth to get the Yankees to 5-4. Maddon came to his senses and relied on Fernando Rodney for a five-out save, which he got, aided by a tack-on run in the ninth created by a clutch, two-out steal of second base by Desmond Jennings and an error by shortstop Eduardo Nunez.
So Price ended up with his 18th victory of the season and the Rays their 10th in 16 games against the Yankees this year while Sabathia remained winless in four starts since Aug. 24. He is 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA and 30 hits allowed in 27 innings during the stretch.
“I still believe in CC,” Girardi said. “I’m with him every day in that clubhouse, and I know his heart.”
Even in a quiet clubhouse, it was hard to hear the Yankees’ collective heart beating.