HOUSTON — CC Sabathia went into Saturday night’s Game 7 of the American League Championship Series with a 10-0 record this season following Yankees losses.
It’s now 10-1 after the Astros ended the Yankees’ season and advanced to the World Series with a 4-0 victory at Minute Maid Park.
An uncharacteristically wild Sabathia (36 strikes, 29 balls) lasted only 3 1⁄3 innings. In typically gritty fashion, he held the Astros to 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and allowed only one run, on Evan Gattis’ fourth-inning home run.
But Sabathia, who allowed five hits, walked three and didn’t strike out a batter, failed to give the Yankees enough length. And their vaunted bullpen let them down.
Tommy Kahnle got out of a jam in the fourth but the Astros scored three runs off Kahnle in the fifth, and that was enough to send the Yankees home for the season — and perhaps end Sabathia’s stellar Yankees career.
Sabathia, 37, is a free agent. After the game, he made no bones about saying he wants to wear the pinstripes again in 2018.
“This is my home,” an emotional Sabathia said. “This is my home. I want to see this thing through . . . This is where I want to play.”
Asked if he thinks he will return, Sabathia said: “Hopefully. You never know.”
But will the Yankees want Sabathia back, and will the sides be able to agree on a contract? Sabathia made $25 million this season, when he went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 27 regular-season starts and 1-1, 2.37 in four postseason outings. He has a balky right knee that he feared was going to end his career — not just his season — when it appeared to give way after a start in Toronto in August.
Still, Sabathia is a leader in the clubhouse and wants to stay in the New York area. There is another team that plays in New York that could use a veteran arm and some leadership . . . but that’s a thought for another day.
Manager Joe Girardi, also a free agent, said of Sabathia: “CC will always be special to me because of what he stands for. And the great player that he is. The great man that he is. The wonderful teammate that he is. I mean, how he pulls a team together. He’s as good as I’ve ever been around when it comes to a clubhouse guy, a guy that will take the ball when you’re on a losing streak or that you can count on, and knowing that it could be the possible last time. I’m not saying that he won’t be back. But there’s no guarantees for me. And I’m very thankful for the years that I’ve had with CC. He’s taught me a lot. And our players can learn a lot from CC. The kind of fighter that he is. The things that he has to overcome to be successful. The knee issues and he doesn’t have the 98 in the pocket anymore. And how he reinvented himself. He’s special — as special as they get.”
Sabathia said he will always remember the 2017 Yankees as a special group that just came up short. He’d like another shot.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “Twenty-five brothers in here. We played like that all year and we have nothing to hang our heads about. This is tough. This hurts.”