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CC's struggles, Lance's tough afternoon and the Rays gain ground

Since going 8-0 with a 1.81 ERA in eight starts from June 3-July 11, CC Sabathia has gone 1-2 with a 3.67 ERA in his last four starts. Today's lost was his first loss in August since losing to Kansas City Aug. 24, 2007. From then until today he had been 11-0 in 13 August starts with a 1.92 ERA.

"It's felt like since the All-Star break for me, fastball command really hasn't been there, changeup [as well]," Sabathia said. "I'll just keep going and make some adjustments and try to get that back."

Sabathia gave up eight hits but there weren't many hard-hit balls, though that wasn't of any consolation to the lefthander.

"A hit's a hit, a run's a run," Sabathia said. "You want to keep them off the board, especially when their guy's throwing the way he did tonight." 

*** Lance Berkman sounded like a man in need of an adjustment period coming to New York and fortunately Yankee fans are a notoriously patient bunch.

“I don’t think I’ve played a meaningful game in like three years,” said the 34-year-old Berkman, who had been with the Astros since 1999. “I hate to put it like that but you have to learn how to manage your emotions again. You kind of have to be in the same environment and realize, OK, it’s the same game, you have to slow everything down because the tendency is for everything to speed up and to be real nervous and be real excited. It takes a little bit of being in that environment to sort of get the feel for it again.”

His comment most likely to be discussed tomorrow was when he said that in a conversations with good friend Andy Pettitte, "several times over the last day and a half I was about to burst into tears."

Hopefully people don't just focus on that as there was some context provided.

"I’m thrilled to be here. It’s not that,” he said. “It’s just when you spend that much of your career with one organization and think about all the people that you meet over there…it can fluster you a little bit. I’m sure in a couple weeks from now it’s not even going to be a big deal, but at first there’s a lot of emotion. I’m dealing with it and I think it will be great. I wouldn’t change it but it’s been a tough couple of days emotionally.”

Berkman, however, did come off, even though I don't think it was his intent, as making excuses for a couple of plays he didn't make -- the soft RBI liner by Kelly Shoppach that dropped over his head in the second and not scooping out Robinson Cano's soft one-hopper in the third on ball hit by Reid Brignac. 

“He didn’t get a whole lot on that throw,” said Berkman, who felt, though replays suggested otherwise, Brignac would have beaten the throw. “It’s a lot easier to pick a throw that’s got something on it because you can get a better read. That ball kind of jumped up and had a little sidespin on it.”

Still, I think Berkman is going to be just fine. Both at the plate and in the field. And he did make an outstanding play in the fourth, diving to his left to stop Gabe Kapler's ground smash, a play that saved one run and maybe two. 

*** The Yankees leave here with just a one-game lead but no one on this team thought the race to the finish line in the East would be anything but close. 

“It’s two good teams,” Joe Girardi said. “Like I said, this is going to go down to the wire and we just need to go win a series when we go home.”  

"It's definitely a good battle, there's no doubt," said Nick Swisher, who had two of the Yankees' five hits. "Two great teams going up against each other. Those are fun games to play in." 

The Yankees are back at it tomorrow night against the Blue Jays as A.J. Burnett (9-8, 4.52) takes on Brandon Morrow (7-6, 4.62).  

New York Sports