“These are the games that, if you don’t have the mental toughness that CC has, you give up seven, eight, nine runs and you’re not around for a decision,” Joe Girardi said. “He just kept at it, kept fighting and fighting, finally settled down from the fourth through the sixth and gave up a run in the seventh. By gosh, it was a battle for him tonight. It was tough.”
There’s a lot to be admired about that. Sabathia said it’s come with age, this ability to grind through starts when the fastball isn’t working and the secondary pitches aren’t reliable. Seven innings and four runs isn’t what he wanted when the night started, but it was better than he might have expected after that three-run first.
“A couple of years ago I probably wouldn’t have been able to get through a start like tonight,” Sabathia said. “Just knowing that these guys can hit and they’re going to be play defense and we have a chance to win if I keep it close gives you a lot of confidence. … I’ve been grinding all year. I haven’t had a stretch or a couple of games where it’s been easy.”
At his best, Sabathia can make it look easy, and that’s the concern after a start like last night. It was a little too familiar. Sabathia’s struggled with his fastball command time and time again this season. He’s still 8-3 with a 3.80 ERA, so clearly he’s not letting these starts fall apart, but he hasn’t been able to dominate like he and the Yankees expect.
“I don’t know (what’s causing it),” he said. “It’s something I need to figure out, though, because it’s hurting me early in games and putting us in a hole. It did (last night), so I look for my next start to be able to come out and be fresh and be sharp from the start. … (I’m) just frustrated. Just being able to command the fastball, that’s really the first thing that comes with me. Everything kind of comes off that. I haven’t really been able to command it consistently for a whole game all year. It’s cutting. It’s tailing away. It’s everything. It’s not just one certain spot, it’s the whole thing with the fastball command and everything I throw comes off of that.”
Associated Press photo