CC Sabathia blames himself for Yankees' predicament

CC Sabathia reacts on the mound in the CC Sabathia reacts on the mound in the second inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. (July 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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SAN DIEGO - The offensive numbers are poor and have been all season.

But CC Sabathia looks at where the Yankees are -- 81/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox in the AL East and 31/2 games behind the Indians in the race for the second AL wild-card spot -- and puts the blame squarely on his broad shoulders.

"I feel like if I was myself, I feel like we're right in the middle of this thing," Sabathia said. "And that's the most frustrating part for me is letting my teammates down. I put a lot of accountability on myself, and it's embarrassing."

Sabathia (9-9, 4.65 ERA) enters Friday night's start against the Padres in the midst of what he calls the worst, and most frustrating, season of his career. In his last three starts, against the Twins, Red Sox and Rays, he went 0-2 with a 10.93 ERA, allowing 22 runs (17 earned), 26 hits and seven walks in 14 innings.

Forget the in-season rolls he's been known to get on; Sabathia is just trying to put quality starts together.

It has been a season of adjustment for the 33-year-old lefthander, a power pitcher whose fastball no longer consistently reaches the mid-90s. This season, according to the online Pitchf/x Tool, his fastball is averaging 91.6 mph compared to 93.0 mph last year, 94.6 in 2011, 94.3 in 2010 and 95.0 in 2009, his first season with the Yankees.

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During the All-Star break, Sabathia went to work on a slight mechanical adjustment he had discussed with pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

"We've been talking about my arm angle being too low," Sabathia said July 20, the day before a Sunday night start in Boston. "We're starting a new drill where I spread out my legs pretty wide, just using my upper body playing catch the first couple of throws just to make sure I'm getting on top and getting the arm angle. I'm hoping that will help me out."

Then Sabathia was shelled for seven runs in five innings in an 8-7 loss to the Red Sox.

It is that kind of outing that irritates Sabathia most, the reason he sees the Yankees' fourth-place standing as his responsibility, regardless of how the offense is performing. A better outing that night, he said, would have allowed the Yankees to take two of three against the first-place Red Sox. "Those are big games,'' he said, "and those make a difference."

He spoke candidly to a small group of reporters before Wednesday night's game, a 3-0 victory over the Dodgers in which Hiroki Kuroda pitched seven shutout innings and again demonstrated that he is the ace of this year's staff.

As he has all season, Sabathia said he is healthy and that his issues are fixable. He added that he's not "dwelling" on the past and that there's still plenty of season remaining.

"It's definitely frustrating beyond anything that I've been a part of,'' he said, "but I have to keep it in perspective. I still have time left to go out and try and help this team. We still have some time left that I can hopefully help this team, but up until this point, I don't feel like I have."

And that leaves the former Cy Young Award winner coming back to a word not often associated with him.

"That's the only way I can tell you how I feel about it is 'embarrassed,' " Sabathia said. "Coming in here and not being able to help this team win. Just knowing what we've been through and how hard it's been for us. It's crazy."

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