David Price outduels CC Sabathia as Rays beat Yankees, 6-4
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Again CC Sabathia's velocity rested a tick below what's been typical in his career. And again he wasn't quite good enough, which for the Yankees this year has been unnervingly typical.
AL Cy Young Award candidate David Price got the best of Sabathia on Friday night as the Yankees lost to the Rays, 6-4, in front of 45,200 at the Stadium.
The Yankees remained tied for first place in the AL East with the Orioles, who lost to the Athletics, 3-2, in Oakland. It was the second time in two days that Baltimore temporarily went ahead by a half-game before falling back into a tie. The Rays are three games behind both teams.
"I don't think my velocity has been the problem,'' said Sabathia (13-6), who allowed four runs in 62/3 innings with a fastball that, for a second straight start, sat in the range of 91 to 93 mph.
But that doesn't mean Sabathia, who dropped to 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA in his last four starts, thinks all is well. He has not gone on the kind of prolonged run of good-to-great outings he enjoyed in just about every previous season, and time is running out for him to do so.
"We keep talking about it, but it's time for it to show up,'' he said. "My arm feels good, my body feels good, so it's just up to me to go out and get out of some situations that come up every game, and I'm not doing that.''
It was the fifth straight start in which Sabathia surrendered a lead, this one 1-0 heading into the fifth. The Rays then scored three runs to go ahead for good.
Chris Gimenez, after falling behind 1-and-2, hit the first of his two doubles and Sabathia walked Carlos Peña, who also was in a 1-and-2 hole. No. 9 hitter Elliot Johnson and Desmond Jennings followed with run-scoring singles and the third run scored on Evan Longoria's double-play ball.
"Things like that, when I'm going good, usually don't happen,'' Sabathia said. "I think I'm looking for strikeouts instead of making pitches and getting outs. Today should have been a day where I went out and dominated. I had good stuff, was throwing the ball in well. Changeup was good. But I can't give up a [1-and-2] double to a guy like Gimenez [who entered the at-bat hitting .215] and walk Peña. Stuff like that kills you.''
Alex Rodriguez's long two-run homer off Joel Peralta with one out in the eighth pulled the Yankees within 5-4. After Robinson Cano walked, Joe Maddon called on Fernando Rodney for a five-out save. With runners on first and second and two outs, Curtis Granderson, who had homered in the fifth, grounded out on Rodney's first pitch.
Joba Chamberlain allowed an unearned run in the ninth on shortstop Eduardo Nuñez's two-out error. The Yankees then went down 1-2-3, with Derek Jeter striking out to end it as Rodney earned his 43rd save.
Jeter had moved past Willie Mays into 10th place on the career hits list with the first of his two singles. "It's nice, it's a good feeling, but we're trying to win games,'' Jeter said.
Price (18-5, 2.54 ERA), who entered the game leading the AL in wins and ERA, pitched like an ace. He missed his last turn in the rotation because of shoulder soreness, but with a fastball in the range of 96 mph, he allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings, striking out six.
Granderson hit his 38th home run to bring the Yankees within 3-2 in the fifth. The homer, which gave Granderson a team-leading 90 RBIs, was his fourth in a span of 17 at-bats. It went over the leaping B.J. Upton's glove, hit the top of the wall and ricocheted into the Yankees' bullpen. But Ben Zobrist's two-out RBI single in the seventh, on Sabathia's 110th and final pitch, made it 4-2. Upton's 23rd homer, on an 0-and-2 pitch from Cody Eppley, gave the Rays a 5-2 lead in the eighth.
Sabathia takes the title of "ace'' seriously and expressed frustration at not coming through. Joe Girardi believes he is healthy, but he knows that for his team to play deep into October, Sabathia needs to be better.
"He's a big factor in this, we know that,'' Girardi said. "He's been since he's been here in 2009. He's been the leader of our staff . . . He's a big part of it.''