Friday, October 2, 2009

Game 160: One More Chance

CC Sabathia will step to the mound tonight in search of his 20th victory of the season. The Big CCheese won 19 along with the AL Cy Young Award in 2007 and coincidentally has the same ERA (3.21) and the same record (19-7) that year as he does with one start to go in 2009. Odds are, one of those three numbers will change tonight, and likely, two of them will fluctuate.

The Tampa Bay Rays, led by David Price will be trying to see to it that the numbers that change are in the "loss" and "ERA" columns. This is not the position the Rays envisioned themselves in when this season began - long since eliminated from the postseason and simply playing out the string. The media darlings were predicted to contend for the AL East crown or at least the Wild Card but instead were pretty much out of the playoff picture when August came around.

A sort of symbol of the Rays struggles, Price has has a disappointing season as well. in 121 1/3 IP, he's stuck out 97, walked 52 and racked up a 4.60 ERA. When he was unveiled during last year's playoff run as a reliever, the general consensus was that he would be a force to be reckoned with one transitioned to the starting rotation. However, much like Joba Chamberlain, he's thrown too many pitches and walked too many batters. He's been better as of late though, carrying a 3.86 ERA over his last seven starts, including six innings of two run ball against the Yanks about three weeks ago.

Like Mr. Sabathia, Mike Mussina made a charge towards 20 wins last season notching victories in each of his last three starts including the last one against a division rival (the Red Sox) on the road, in a meaningless game (although meaningless for entirely different reasons). Paradoxically, Mussina did it with a higher ERA on a team with at least 13 fewer victories.

Should he complete the feat, Sabathia will have gone 10-0 in his last 12 starts to get 20 victories. CC will be the man of the night, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not:
Right now, to be honest, 20 wins is the last thing on my mind. I'm just trying to get ready to pitch on Wednesday. It would be great to be able to look back one day and say I won 20 games one year, but it's not a crazy goal.
He's not the type of guy who is going to make a big deal out of it, but I'm sure he's thinking about getting to the big 2-0. If you work the whole season and are within reach of that milestone for the first time in your career and you're going to want it pretty badly. He'll probably be putting a little more pressure on himself than usual, so it will be more interesting than your average playoff tune-up.

Big Poppa's only got one chance to do it. This year anyway.

Lyrically, I'm supposed to represent,
I'm not only the client, I'm the player president.

One more chance,
Biggie give me one more chance,
All I need is one more chance.

[Sidenote: The song choices have been a bit of a struggle lately, since we've ripped through 160 of them now, but this one might have been the easiest of the year. Sometimes they just fall into place.]

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