ARLINGTON, Texas — No one pretends anymore that the bar for CC Sabathia is set very high. He is the Yankees’ fifth starter, and expectations for the former ace are commensurate with that rotation slot.
“I think he’s done a pretty good job of giving us an opportunity to win every game,” Joe Girardi said before Sabathia took the mound Wednesday night against the Rangers. “He’s not the guy that’s going to throw 120 pitches anymore. He’s not that guy.”
The 35-year-old lefthander, of course, still believes he can turn in top-of-the-rotation caliber starts, the reason he was particularly disappointed in his two previous outings, when he lasted just 4 2/3 innings in each. Sabathia did better than that Wednesday, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings, but wasn’t good enough, in large part because of little run support.
In what is quickly becoming a dog-bites-man headline this young season, the Yankees didn’t hit again, the latest edition a 3-2 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Park. The Yankees (8-12), who lost two of three to the Rangers (12-10), continue this three-city, nine-game trip Friday night in Boston.
The Yankees came in 13 for their last 104 (.125) with runners in scoring position and didn’t improve dramatically, finishing 1-for-5.
After Rangers lefthander Martin Perez went six innings, allowing two runs and six hits, the Yankees didn’t score against lefty Jake Diekman (two innings) and righty Shawn Tolleson, who earned his seventh save.
Sabathia struck out five and walked three, and the last of those walks was especially galling.
Alex Rodriguez’s third homer had tied it at 2 in the fourth, and Sabathia retired the first two batters of the sixth before walking Rougned Odor on five pitches. Elvis Andrus pounced on a 2-and-2, belt-high fastball and lasered it into the gap in right-center for a triple that gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
Perez allowed eight first-inning runs in a 21-5 rout last July 28 in his only previous start against the Yankees.
In the second, Perez walked Mark Teixeira and A-Rod, who came in hitting .145, to start the inning. Brian McCann grounded into a 4-6-3 double play but Starlin Castro came through, dumping a single to right to make it 1-0.
Sabathia nearly pitched out of a jam in the second but saw the Rangers tie it at 1. Ryan Rua led off with a single to the right side that beat the shift. Odor sent a single to the gap in right-center and took second on Jacoby Ellsbury’s ill-advised throw trying to get Rua at third.
Andrus bounced to third for the first out and Hanser Alberto followed with a comebacker. Sabathia looked Rua back to third, but not long enough, then tossed softly to Teixeira. Rua took off for the plate as Sabathia threw to first and slid across to beat Teixeira’s throw, which was slightly off line, but that likely didn’t make a difference.
Perez set down the Yankees in order in a seven-pitch third, and the Rangers took the lead in the bottom half. Sabathia walked Bryan Holaday on four pitches, and Delino DeShields’ sacrifice bunt moved Holaday to second. Sabathia struck out Nomar Mazara but Adrian Beltre waited on an 0-and-1 fastball and lined it to center for a single that made it 2-1.
Rodriguez tied it in the fourth, slamming a belt-high changeup to left. It was A-Rod’s 690th homer and 100th in this ballpark, where he played from 2001-03.