CLEVELAND — CC Sabathia was 9-0 during the regular season in 10 starts following a Yankees loss. He did his best to make it 10-0 on Friday in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Indians.
Sabathia was cruising with an 8-3 lead and had thrown 77 pitches when manager Joe Girardi removed him with one out and one on in the sixth inning.
Sabathia had retired 12 of 13 batters — Carlos Santana walked to open the sixth — and had just gotten red-hot Jay Bruce on a liner to short when Girardi popped out of the dugout and called in Chad Green from the bullpen.
“I felt good,” Sabathia said. “Body-wise, I felt great.”
But Girardi’s move didn’t turn out all that great. Green allowed the Indians to load the bases and gave up a two-out grand slam to Francisco Lindor to bring Cleveland within 8-7. The Indians tied the score at 8 in the eighth on Bruce’s home run off David Robertson and won it, 9-8, in the 13th on Yan Gomes’ walk-off single off Dellin Betances.
The Indians lead 2-0 in the best-of-five series and can close it out on Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.
Did Girardi have any regrets about taking out Sabathia?
“It’s kind of what we’ve done all year with Green,” he said. “It was set up for Green to come in, and I decided to go. Usually, we give CC somewhere around 90 pitches. I think he was at 80, and it was set up for our bullpen. I went there, and it didn’t work.”
Asked if he was surprised to be yanked, Sabathia said: “Yeah. I mean, yeah. It is what it is. Our bullpen is the strength of this team. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
When Sabathia was removed, two of the three runs he had given up to that point were unearned because of errors by third baseman Todd Frazier in the first and second innings.
Sabathia, the 37-year-old former Yankees ace, is no stranger to pitching deep into games in the postseason. In fact, Girardi said watching Sabathia’s performance as a member of the Brewers in the 2008 stretch run and postseason was one of the reasons he wanted the Yankees to sign the lefthander before the 2009 season.
“It’s been incredible to watch and how important he’s been to us,” Girardi said before the game. “I look at this year. In a lot of instances where we needed a win, it was CC.”
The Yankees needed a win on Friday. Girardi didn’t stay with Sabathia, and it cost him.
CC bounces back
After a tough first inning, CC Sabathia rebounded.
1st inning: 2 R (1 ER), 1 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 0 K
Next 4 1⁄3 innings: 1 R (0 ER), 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K