The Yankees haven’t won a CC Sabathia start since July 3. It goes without saying that they can’t afford to have that trend continue.
“I think you need to pitch well pretty much every day to have a chance to really climb back into this,” Joe Girardi said. “It really can’t be two starters or three starters or four. I think you need all five to contribute at a very high level.”
That’s probably a fair point — the Yankees really can’t give away every fifth game — but Sabathia stands out because of who he is and what he’s been. He’s supposed to be the staff ace, and lately he’s been infinitely beatable. Of Sabathia’s firste 18 starts this season, the Yankees won 12. But they’ve lost each of the past six times Sabathia’s gone to the mound. And they’ve scored at least five runs in half of those games.
Sabathia’s last start seemed to be a step in the right direction. He finally got through the seventh inning again, and he didn’t walk anyone, and he allowed three runs on five hits. It wasn’t a dominant start, but it was a winable start.
“I thought his sinker was better,” Girardi said. “I thought his command of the outside corner to the right-handed hitters was better. His changeup was better as well. Those are key pitches for him. We need that to continue. … (The changeup) has been a huge pitch for him his whole career. The key is that it doesn’t cut, that it remains straight or fades a little bit, and I thought it was better. And we need that to continue.”
Counting this one, Sabathia should have about 10 more starts this season. How many of those do the Yankees need to win?
• For the first time since the most recent DL stint, Derek Jeter took full batting practice on the field today. He also took grounders at shortstop. Sounds like he could run soon, but he’ll head to Tampa on Thursday regardless. “It’s a day-to-day thing,” Jeter said. “They told me I’m taking BP, so I’m taking BP. Tomorrow I don’t know. I know I’m going to Tampa on Thursday. That’s all I know.”
• Jeter said he has no idea whether he’ll need another rehab assignment. He doesn’t want one, but it’s obviously not his call and it’s been a while since he played regularly. “At this point, do you think I have any input in anything they do around here?” Jeter said.
• Jeter on the possibility of another rehab assignment: “I always think I can just jump back in,” Jeter said. “I did last time. But like I said, I get it. If they want me to go play somewhere, I’ll go play somewhere. It’s entirely up to them. I’m not really in a power position to negotiate, that’s all I can say.”
• Chris Stewart’s hand is fine, just getting another day off so that Austin Romine can get more playing time. That’s been happening quite a bit lately as Stewart’s production has dragged and Romine’s has improved. “I’ve talked about playing Ro a little bit more, and you will see him a little bit more,” Girardi said. “But Stew is still going to catch a lot.”
• Yes, Girardi calls Romine, “Ro.”
• Today’s lineup is a product of trying to maximize the right-handed hitters against a lefty. “Just using everyone, keeping everyone strong and fresh,” Girardi said. “Took a couple of lefties out, put a couple of righties in. Decided to put Nuney in the leadoff spot – he’s been swinging the bat well – against the lefty today.”
• Brett Gardner is fine, just a day to rest. “He’s been playing every day, but I’ve noticed in the second half, when I’ve given him a day off, how much more explosive he has been and has seemed to swing better, and I think that’s important,” Girardi said. “We ran him really hard in the first half, and I think it took toll a little bit.”
• Scranton/Wilkes-Barre announced that Mark Montgomery is back on the disabled list. David Herndon — the former Phillies reliever coming back from Tommy John surgery — has been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A to replace Montgomery.
Associated Press photos