CC Sabathia walked toward the dugout to the sweet sound of a loud ovation Sunday at Yankee Stadium, but he left gridlock on the bases behind him, three on with two gone in the seventh.
Adam Warren couldn’t negotiate his way out of the traffic jam, allowing two runs to cross. Yet it didn’t mask how well Sabathia pitched against the power-packed Orioles, the majors’ top homer-hitting team.
The 36-year-old lefty ended up with another quality start — charged with three runs, six hits and two walks while fanning eight. But the other guy was just a little better. Kevin Gausman allowed no runs, seven hits and no walks and struck out nine across seven innings on the way to a 5-0 win that dropped the Yankees 3 1⁄2 behind Baltimore for the second wild card.
“Their guy was pitching good,” Sabathia said. “I was just trying to keep us in there. But obviously you want to win the game.”
This marked Sabathia’s 12th quality start out of 24. His record fell to 8-11 and his ERA fell to 4.31. After allowing between four and six earned runs for six straight starts, Sabathia has yielded three or fewer in five of the last seven, including the last two. Those two have come with a total of just nine hits allowed.
“Hopefully, I can just keep it going,” Sabathia said.
The 6 2⁄3-inning outing brought him to 3,002 innings in his American League career, making him the 39th in AL history to hit the 3,000 mark.
Sabathia gave up just two hits through five. But he finally cracked when Steve Pearce opened the sixth by launching a homer to left for a 1-0 lead.
The seventh inning got away with two outs. Two strikeouts were sandwiched around a Jonathan Schoop single. Then Nolan Reimold reached on an infield hit, a grounder to the right side that took a tricky hop and got past Starlin Castro after he tried to avoid Schoop.
“Just how it’s been going,” Sabathia said. “Soft contact. I made the pitch but just didn’t get the result.”
Damage by soft contact has indeed been a recurring, frustrating theme for him.
“But all you can keep doing is just keep going and hopefully it’ll turn around,” Sabathia said.
After Reimold’s single, Sabathia damaged himself by issuing a four-pitch walk to the No. 9 batter, Hyun Soo Kim.
“That was the big hitter of the game,” Joe Girardi said.
Ninety-nine pitches had come and gone. Now the manager was coming and Sabathia was going. Pearce greeted Warren with a two-run single to make it a three-run game. Asked if he felt he deserved a better fate, Sabathia simply said, “It’s baseball.”