When Mariano Rivera blows a save, everything else becomes secondary. It’s the one thing we’ll remember about yesterday’s season opener.
But a lot happened before the walk-off, and CC Sabathia’s first six innings were worth remembering as well. The Yankees ace wasn’t particularly sharp in spring training, and his first few innings of the regular season looked alarmingly similar.
“Fastball command, yeah,” Sabathia said. “But it got better later, so I can take something from that and work in the bullpen and be ready to go four days from now.”
As he always does, Sabathia seemed to do enough yesterday to leave the Yankees feeling perfectly confident in their No. 1 starter. Yes, he gave up five runs in six innings, but four of those came on a 3-2 mistake that Carlos Pena walloped for a grand slam. The other run came on a solo homer. Sabathia otherwise made some big pitches when he had to, and he finished pretty strong.
“It seemed like it was tough for us to get in a rhythm,” Russell Martin said. “It didn’t seem like we had good flow going into the game, but a couple times through the lineup, it looked like he was getting better. He just wasn’t as sharp as he normally is. Get those early jitters out of the game and he’ll be fine.”
Ultimately, history speaks for itself. The Yankees aren’t going to stop giving Rivera the ball because he blew a save on Opening Day, and they’re not going to stop using Sabathia every fifth day because his ERA happens to be 7.50 at the moment. With 161 games to play, a one-game sample doesn’t tell much. Trust the great players to be great, even when they’re only so-so for a day.
“At times (Sabathia) had a fastball that cut (and) a changeup that cut,” Joe Girardi said. “He just wasn’t able to control the down and away, and then he seemed to get it as time went on. I hope that bodes well for his next start.”
Associated Press photo