Two questions, back-to-back, stood out during CC Sabathia’s postgame interview tonight in San Diego.
Are you starting to worry about this at all?
“Of course. Who wouldn’t? But I’m going to keep going, keep battling, and try to help this team.”
Are you going out with full confidence?
“It’s hard to, but yeah. I’m pretty confident and I feel like it’s going to turn. It just hasn’t yet.”
Sabathia would later say that he thinks every start is going to be the one that gets him back on track, and that he fully believes he’s going to figure out a way to be better down the stretch. But it’s clear that this string of disappointments is starting to weigh on him. Sabathia’s lost four straight decisions, which is the second-longest streak of his career. And it’s not just the fact he’s lost these games, he’s lost them by pitching poorly at a time when his team badly needs him.
“We need him to be CC if we’re going to make a run,” Joe Girardi said.
And Sabathia’s well aware of that.
“Of course,” he said. “I’m not saying that I’m better than anyone else, but I feel like I need to be strong. … We’re battling, and I’m not helping us. I’ve expressed that in the past. We’ve dealt with a lot this year, and me not being able to help is killing me.”
Sabathia said he actually felt “really good” coming out for this game, and his fastball was getting up to 93-94 mph. Chris Stewart said Sabathia didn’t cut too many pitches tonight.
“He knows he is the guy that this team relies on, and he knows he can be a lot better than what he’s showing out there,” Stewart said. “It’s just tough to see him have to go through it. It’s not really a whole lot of mistakes that he’s making; he’s getting a whole lot of bad luck as well. The (pitches) aren’t really as bad as what’s going on out there.”
It’s been bad. Sabathia said he couldn’t remember the last time he went through a stretch like this, and it certainly hasn’t happened during his time with the Yankees. He’s gone through bad stretches, but not like this. Used to be that one of the best things about Sabathia was that even at his worst, he gave the Yankees a fighting chance. He’s not doing that now, and that’s a real problem for a team that can’t afford to give away many more games.
“I don’t care who you are, I don’t care how good you are, at some point, you’re going to struggle,” Derek Jeter said. “If you guys can think of a player who has played this game and never struggled, I would like to see it. So you just gotta work through it. It happens. I wish it didn’t happen. Unfortunately, it is part of the game. CC will be fine. He’s just got to battle through it and make adjustments.”
The sooner, the better.
• Alex Rodriguez finished tonight’s rehab game 1-for-2 with a walk, a strikeout and a home run. He confirmed that the plan is for him to join the Yankees on Monday in Chicago. “Unless I get hit by lightning, and these days you never know,” he said.
• Once again, Rodriguez seemed to hint at his distrust of the Yankees. “There is more than one party that benefits from me not being on the field,” he said. “It’s not my teammates and not the Yankees fans.”
• Girardi was asked about Rodriguez’s postgame comments, but obviously didn’t really respond to them. “I’m not involved in that part of it,” Girardi said. “I’m involved in managing the people when they get in the room and that’s what I take responsibility for. I was not there, and if I had a chance to sit down and talk with him, I might talk about that, but I’m not there. I’ve got to worry about the guys in this room. Our hope is that we get him back. He’s scheduled to play tomorrow and work out on Sunday. Hopefully it’s Monday for us.”
• Of course, Sabathia continues to say he’s fully healthy, and Girardi says the same thing. “If he wasn’t healthy, I wouldn’t run him out there,” Girardi said. “… If he wasn’t healthy, I don’t think you would see him get up to 93. He wouldn’t be able to take the ball every fifth day, he wouldn’t be able to throw his sides and he’d be getting more treatment. None of that is happening.”
• Girardi did, however, hint at some lingering health concerns for Jeter. “He’s coming back from a leg injury and I’m not so sure it’s 100 percent,” Girardi said. “He’s trying to grind through it for us.” Girardi made it clear that it’s not the ankle that has him concerned, suggesting the quad is still sensitive.
• Predictably, Jeter declined to say anything about the injury. “I’m all right,” he said. “Like I told you, if I play, you don’t hear anything about it. I played, so I’m good.”
• Jeter didn’t look too good trying to slide. “I was going to stand up, and I decided to slide,” he said. “I tried to slow down and it didn’t look too good. I thought it would probably be easier just to try to slide as oppose to break it down, so I was confused.”
• Also didn’t look good on the bad throw to second base. “No, no, no, it wasn’t an awkward step,” he said. “He was running on the play and he got there a little quicker than I thought. I tried to rush it but I threw it high, so. It wasn’t awkward.”
• Stewart stayed on the ground for a bit after the home plate collision. “Jarred neck a little bit,” he said. “Kind of rung my bell. It started loosening up as we went along. It feels fine now. … It felt fine the rest of the game. I don’t see why it would prevent me from doing anything tomorrow.”
• All of the Yankees — Sabathia, Stewart and Girardi — said they thought the 2-2 pitch to Alonso was a strike in the first inning. On the next pitch, Sabathia walked in a run. “I walked him on the next pitch,” Sabathia said. “I can’t do that. I can’t walk in a run and expect to win games.”
• Sabathia also failed to cover first on a possible out. Girardi said “every pitcher needs to find a way” to get to first on that play, and Sabathia was predictably beating himself up over it. He falls off the mound on the other side, but still, he’s got to get over there. “And then giving up a triple,” he said. “Can’t win games like that.”
• Final word goes to Girardi: “The way I look at it, I think you have to win most of the series. By losing the first game, you put yourself in a tough spot. I think you need to take advantage of situations, yes.”
Associated Press photos