Here is what you need to understand about CC Sabathia:
Winning doesn’t just happen.
There has to be a desire, an inner drive that creates that energy, not only for Sabathia, but for his team.
Sabathia didn’t get the win Saturday, but his Yankees did, snapping a four-game losing streak. The big lefty was the difference, setting the tone in his first start of the season, pitching quickly and efficiently, five innings of one-hit shutout ball in a 4-0 win over the White Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Aaron Judge understands. Listen to what Judge told The Post about what makes Sabathia a winner:
“I think it’s just his upbringing and maybe where he’s from and how people doubted him, coming from Vallejo, Calif., he’s a high school guy, I know he was the first round, but not too many people make it out of there,’’ Judge told me.
“For CC to do what he did and how he has impacted communities around the U.S. and how he has impacted New York and impacted so many people, I think he has always has that chip on his shoulder that, ‘Hey, people are still doubting me, I am going to go out there and prove them wrong.’ Especially now.
“Now that he is in his last year, people are still doubting him. Kind of like ‘Oh, this guy, he probably doesn’t have anything left.’ And he’s like, ‘You know what, I’m going to show you what I have left.’
“That’s what I see from afar.’’
Afar is only right field, and after the Yankees scored three times in the seventh without benefit of a home run, Judge lifted a 335-foot homer — his fourth of the season — into the right-field porch.
Sabathia, who had a December heart scare, a blocked artery that required surgery to insert a stent, wanted to pitch a sixth inning, but cautious manager Aaron Boone would not let him go back out.
There is no fluff with CC. Asked about his ultimate desire to win, he answered: “That’s what we’re here to do. That’s why you sign up to be a Yankee, is to win.’’
Essentially, Sabathia reminded the Yankees why they are the Yankees and that the rebuilding White Sox with his buddy, former Yankee Ivan Nova, on the mound are the White Sox.
This is about winning. Nothing else. Pitch fast. Pitch clean. Keep your teammates in the game. That’s how you get a diving stop and throw from second baseman Tyler Wade for the first out in the third inning. That’s how you get a scrambling, sliding catch by center fielder Brett Gardner after a one-out single in that third.
Sabathia’s desire to win raises the play of his teammates.
At 38, and following offseason knee surgery as well, that desire to win only grows. This is the last go-round of his Hall of Fame career. He won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009. He wants to win another one and incredibly on Saturday, Sabathia became the first major league pitcher to throw at least five scoreless innings with one hit and no walks in consecutive starts.
Cy Young did something similar in style in consecutive appearances for Boston in 1904, seven innings of relief followed by a perfect game in his next start.
It’s never a bad thing to be mentioned along with Cy Young.
Sabathia wants to cap off his Hall of Fame career the best way possible. He has become the stopper, going 14-1 with a 2.81 ERA since the start of 2017 after a Yankees loss as he has reinvented himself as a pitcher. The White Sox acted as if this were the 2009 version Sabathia and made no adjustments to the new world of his off-speed, hit-the-corners, backdoor slider.
With that approach, they had no chance, then the White Sox imploded in the seventh with second baseman Yolmer Sanchez botching a double-play ground ball off the bat of Greg Bird. Wade even bunted home Clint Frazier from third that inning, something the Bronx Bombers rarely do.
Sabathia came back to the mound and the Yankees found their winning ways.
Published at Sat, 13 Apr 2019 22:43:44 +0000