Yesterday, before the Yankees took on the Astros on Opening Night in Houston, we posed the question: Is the CC Sabathia we saw in Spring Training the real CC? After the events of last night, knowing what we saw from Sabathia, let’s take another look at that question.
It really was a tale of two CC’s last night. There was the overmatched guy we saw in the first two innings, and the crafty solid lefty we saw in his final four innings. Sabathia erased all of the optimism he had built up among the fan base this spring by allowing four runs in the bottom of the first inning. The whole Yankees team came out flat, though.
Sabathia allowed a booming double to center for leadoff man Dexter Fowler, who went to third on a fly ball to right by Robbie Grossman and scored on a single through the drawn in infield (in the first inning!) by Jose Altuve. Altuve stole second and went to third on a wild pitch (and almost scored when Brian McCann threw the ball into left field), and scored on a grounder to first when Mark Teixeira threw the ball away trying to get him at home. Jesus Guzman then got the patented belt high 90 mph fastball from CC and blasted it over the left field fence. The Astros led 4-0. They tacked on two runs in the second on an L.J. Hoes solo bomb and an RBI single by Altuve. That 2013 CC was back in full swing, wasn’t he?
The last four innings CC threw were a completely different story. He stopped throwing the ball up in the zone, and by gawd!, he also stopped giving up homers and hits. He had a 1-2-3 inning in the third, got a little lucky with a fly ball double play in the fourth, gave up only a single in the fifth and closed his night out with a 1-2-3 sixth inning. Over the last four frames, when you would think it would have gotten easier to hit him, CC allowed only 2 hits and a walk. That’s pretty darn good.
The problem with Sabathia this year is that he can’t get his fastball by anyone on a regular basis, so he needs to locate his pitches well. If he can’t locate, like we saw in the first two innings, the Yankees are going to be in a lot of trouble that night. Last night, he figured it out. He just needs to start figuring it out before the team is down 6-0, and he might be able to salvage this season. I know you’re not supposed to pay attention to spring numbers, but he had something going in March. I’m not quite ready to say that he’s done. After all, he now has a career Opening Day ERA of 6.12, so this start could have been the result of his normal first day struggles and not his diminished fastball. Either way, he just better start making adjustments before his next start, or at the very least before next Friday, when I’ll be at the Stadium to watch him pitch.
Featured image courtesy of: Pat Sullivan/Associated Press
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