Now, instead of looking to extend a winning streak, the Yanks need Sabathia to step up with a strong performance and stop the bleeding. In previous Aprils, it might not have been confidence-inspiring to know that CC was taking the mound tonight, but this year he has begun to buck his reputation as a slow starter.
After a shaky 5 1/3 inning inning performance on Opening Night in Fenway, Sabathia has allowed only 5 runs (4 earned), and 18 baserunners (8 hits, 8 walks) in his past three starts, spanning 21 2/3 IP. He was nothing short of dominant against the Rays, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning and was as good or better in his rain-shortened six inning outing against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium. Even when he took the loss against Oakland, three of the four runs came on one pitch to Kurt Suzuki and he was efficient enough to complete 8 innings despite walking six batters. Total all of his outings up and you get a 2-1 record, a 3.00 ERA, a WHIP under 1.000 and about 8 K's per 9 innings pitched.
Sabathia's opponent tonight will be Jeremy Guthire. Like Kevin Millwood heading into last night, Guthrie has pitched well (3.46 ERA) but has only two losses to show for his efforts. Guthrie managed to throw 200 innings for the first time in his career last year, but he also tallied an ERA over 5.00 and led the AL in losses with 17. This year though, he's lasted longer than 6 innings in each of his four starts and given up fewer than 3 runs in each of them.
Guthrie is a fastball-slider-changeup pitcher, with his heater coming in at around 92-93-94 and both of his offspeed pitches about 84-85. A couple of those fastballs were responsible for a minor dustup during Spring Training between the two clubs. On March 29th, Guthrie hit Mark Teixeira in the elbow, foricing hit to leave the game, and a few innings later, plunked Francisco Cervelli. Joe Girardi was seen yelling from the dugout, informing the O's hurler that we was less than pleased with his lack of command.
Although what happened down in Sarasota is just one of many incidents between the Yankees and Orioles in the recent past, it's unlikely to inspire any bad blood tonight. Neither of Cervelli or Teixeira were seriously hurt that day and the regular season has a way of making what happened in March seem insignificant. Like they were last night, the Orioles are still desperate for wins and the Yankees are anxious salvage the final two games of this road trip, which is looking a whole lot more difficult than when it began.
I've been havin' some hard travelin', I thought you knowed,-Lineups-
I've been havin' some hard travelin', way down the road,
I've been havin' some hard travelin', hard ramblin', hard gamblin',
I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord.
Nick Johnson is back in action as the Yanks run their A lineup.
Garrett Atkins replaces Rhyne Hughes at first base tonight. Atkins is awful to a terrible state and manager Dave Trembly has put him on notice that if he doesn't produce, Hughes will take his spot.
Adam Jones, CF
Nick Markakis, RF
Ty Wigginton, 2B
Miguel Tejada, 3B
Matt Wieters, C
Garrett Atkins, 1B
Nolan Reimold, DH
Luis Montanez, LF
Caesar Izturis, SS