Joe Girardi knew the games off the top of his head, the two CC Sabathia starts that reminded him of yesterday’s win against the Angels.
“It’s really the third time he’s done it,” Girardi said. “You go back to Detroit when we were 1-4 and he beat Verlander; the first game against the Red Sox when we lost a bunch in a row (and Sabathia beat Lester), and then again today. Three big performances by him. Just what we needed.”
It’s been an unusual season for Sabathia. His reputation is built largely on his consistency, but he’s lacked that this season. For the most part, it’s been a down year, punctuated by his previous start in Oakland where Sabathia coughed up six runs in front of his hometown friends. But Sabathia’s had his moments, big performances when the Yankees have needed him.
“It feels good,” Sabathia said. “It’s just one of those things. I’ve gotten to start after we’ve had some tough times, so I want to go out and put a good one together, and I was able to do that today. … Especially after coming off the start in Oakland. After we scored the five runs, and the way I pitched in Oakland, I wanted to be aggressive in the strike zone, and my command was a lot better.”
According to PitchFX, Sabathia’s fastball averaged 92.7 mph and peaked at 95.06. He continues to show slightly increased velocity. He’s dismissed the velocity situation, and at times, that dismissal has seemed justified. But the increase in home runs and the lack of consistency certainly suggest Sabathia’s no longer getting away with as many mistakes.
But make no mistake, the Yankees need Sabathia. Hiroki Kuroda has been terrific, and you can certainly argue — pretty easily — that he’s pitched much more like the ace of the staff, but this team seems to really need that one-two punch at the top of the rotation. Something that’s especially true if the Yankees offense is going to continue to struggle like this.
“I think it was important because we’ve talked about him getting on a roll,” Girardi said. “We really felt that after he had the two really good games, he would do it. Just to bounce back, you’re starting to see him put back-to-backs and three out of four. That’s a really good sign.”
Associated Press photo