It was the epitome of CC Sabathia’s season.
Sabathia stood on the Yankee Stadium mound — which can feel like the loneliest place in the world when things aren’t going right — after allowing a long three-run home run by Sandy Leon followed by a line-drive single by Mookie Betts on his 93rd and 94th pitches. All he could do was wait as manager Joe Girardi walked to the mound to take the ball in what became a 5-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday afternoon in which Sabathia allowed five runs (four earned), nine hits and three walks in 5 1⁄3 innings.
Girardi didn’t think Sabathia threw a bad game, saying that four or five of the hits Sabathia surrendered came from soft contact. “I’m encouraged with the contact he’s getting,” he said. “That means there’s deception and he’s hitting his spots but he hasn’t had much luck.”
Sabathia’s two hours on the mound were met with the mixed results indicative of his 15th season in the majors.
Including his June 16 outing, in which he held the Twins to one run in six innings, the lefthander had a 2.20 ERA after 11 starts. That was the seventh straight start in which he allowed two or fewer runs, and it looked like the results Sabathia delivered during the early stages of his Yankees career.
But things have turned on Sabathia since that start in Minnesota. Sabathia did surrender a fair amount of soft-contact hits Saturday, but in his last five outings, he has allowed 27 runs (25 earned) and 39 hits in 28 1⁄3 innings. Five of the hits have been home runs.
Sabathia said he feels healthy and agreed with Girardi’s assessment that a lot of Boston’s hits came from soft contact, saying, “I feel like the stuff’s there. I’m just not getting the results.”
Catcher Brian McCann echoed Girardi and Sabathia. “I thought he threw the ball well today, I really did,’’ he said. “They just found the holes, put them in perfect places today.”
But in the end, it was a hard-contact hit that made the difference, as Leon’s home run ultimately sealed the Yankees’ fate.
After a throwing error by Didi Gregorius, the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out in the third inning of a scoreless game. Sabathia got ahead of Xander Bogaerts 0-and-2 before he grounded a 94-mph fastball to short. The Yankees appeared to turn an inning-ending double play but after a challenge from Boston manager John Farrell, Bogaerts was ruled safe at first and the Red Sox had a 1-0 lead.
Sabathia allowed another run in the fourth on two infield singles and Leon’s soft grounder through the hole into leftfield, but he again escaped a bases-loaded jam without surrendering any more runs.
Said Girardi, “He pitched a lot better than what it’s going to look like.”