Few pitchers in the sport have been as good as CC Sabathia of late so he could be forgiven Wednesday afternoon’s hiccup.
Besides, of more immediate concern to the Yankees is the condition of the lefthander’s right ankle, which the pitcher twisted backing up home plate during the Rockies’ two-run third inning.
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Sabathia said the ankle, in a thick wrap after the Bombers’ 9-8 victory, was “a little sore,” but his expectation is he’ll be able to take his next turn in the rotation.
“X-rays are negative,” said Sabathia, who aggravated the ankle again in the fifth on the mound when his cleat caught in the mound dirt. “It’s day to day, coming in here and getting treatment.”
Sabathia entered Wednesday with a 0.82 ERA over his previous seven starts, but was not as sharp against the Rockies. The 35-year-old allowed six runs (five earned) and seven hits over 4 1⁄3 innings.
“I got to some two-strike counts but wasn’t able to make that last pitch,” he said. “Just not a good day but I’ll be ready for my next start.”
The most significant of the seven hits came off a 0-and-2 cutter to Nick Hundley that came back over the plate, resulting in a three-run homer that gave the Rockies a 5-4 lead, completing their comeback from an early 4-0 deficit.
“These guys put some good swings on some pitches and were on base and kind of relentless,” Sabathia said of a Colorado team that totaled nine homers in four games against the Yankees this season. “Just [stinks] I wasn’t able to do that [hold the 4-0 lead], but these guys came through.”
Even before turning his ankle, Sabathia did not show the sharpness displayed in his previous seven starts. After Sabathia walked Nolan Arenado to lead off the fifth — the final pitch of that at-bat is when his ankle turned again on the mound — and Carlos Gonzalez grounded into a 4-6 force play, Joe Girardi decided to remove the pitcher.
Sabathia, at 86 pitches, could have kept going, but Girardi, with more righty batters coming up and the ankle issue, decided to go to righthander Anthony Swarzak.
“I thought he was struggling today,” Girardi said. “And knowing that he had turned his ankle . . . I just decided to make the change.”