Failing to complete a sweep of the A’s, that was no big deal. Losing two of three to a good Angels team in Anaheim, you almost expect that. Losing the opener against a struggling Orioles team that had only won three games all season then looking back and realizing you have lost four of their last five, that’s a wake-up call. The Yankees need to win the next two games in Baltimore to avoid an embarrassing series loss to the lowly O’s as well as a losing record on their three-stop road trip. Fortunately, they have CC Sabathia on the mound tonight to help get the team back on track.
Sabathia’s last three games have been a near no-hitter and a pair of shortened complete games (six innings in a rain-shortened game, eight innings in a 4-2 loss), which makes this one of his better Aprils on record. One point of warning: CC has been pretty hit-lucky, holding opponents to an absurdly low .197 batting average on balls in play. As is typical for CC in April, his walks are up a bit, and his strikeout rate is no better than it was last year (which was a four-year low for the big lefty). We all know he’ll only get better from here, but those peripherals show there’s actually room for him to do so.
With Nick Johnson back in the lineup as the DH, Sabathia will pitch to Jorge Posada for the first time since Opening Day Night. That shouldn’t effect his performance, but Sabathia’s breakout game as a Yankee came here in Baltimore with Francisco Cervelli behind the plate just less than a year ago, on May 8, 2009. The opposing pitcher that night, Jeremy Guthrie, is on the hill for the O’s again tonight. All four of Guthrie’s starts this season have been quality (three of them against the Rays and Red Sox) and he has walked just five batters total. Despite that, the Orioles have lost all four of those games due to poor run and bullpen support. Guthrie faced the Yankees five times last year and turned in three quality starts, but his and the Orioles’ only win in those five games was Guthrie’s Opening Day matchup against, yes, CC Sabathia. In fact, tonight Guthrie and Sabathia face off for the fourth time dating back that Opening Day tilt. CC holds a 2-1 advantage in those matchups.