CC Sabathia seemed to have a lot going for him when he took the mound against the Orioles last night in search of his 20th win:
He was undefeated in his previous 21 starts at Yankee Stadium;
He was 13-1 lifetime against Baltimore;
He was matched up against rookie righthander Jake Arrieta;
He was pitching against the team with the worst record in the American League.
It seemed too good to be true. And it was.
Sabathia gave up six runs (five earned) in 61/3 innings and was outpitched by Arrieta as the Orioles beat the Yankees for the second straight day, 6-2.
The Yankees lost their third game in a row after winning eight straight. Their lead in the AL East fell to 1½ games over Tampa Bay, which routed the Red Sox, 14-5.
Sabathia (19-6, 3.14 ERA) is 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA in two starts lifetime when he has a chance to win his 20th game. Last Oct. 2 at Tampa Bay, he allowed nine runs (five earned) in 22/3 innings in a loss to the Rays.
In his other 19-win season - 2007 for Cleveland - Sabathia didn't pitch with a chance to win No. 20. He will have at least four more tries this season to reach the 20-win mark for the first time, starting with Monday at Tampa Bay.
Did he think about it?
"Not at all," Sabathia said.
But manager Joe Girardi wasn't so sure.
"I'm sure it could enter his mind," Girardi said. "I wouldn't say that it wouldn't. I didn't see anything in CC that told me that it had, but I think it can enter your mind. Absolutely."
The first five Orioles reached base on four singles and a walk as Baltimore jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
After Robinson Cano drove in a run in the first, the Orioles made it 5-1 in the third when Nolan Reimold hit a two-run home run. The Yankees closed to within 5-2 in the fifth when Jorge Posada doubled to drive in Lance Berkman (3-for-4).
In his 61/3 innings, Sabathia allowed nine hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
"They were just aggressive," he said. "Swinging early and kind of took my aggressiveness away . . . We tried to mix it up early in the count, but I just wasn't getting my secondary pitches over for strikes."
Alex Rodriguez, who was resting and did not start, hit into a forceout as a pinch hitter in the seventh. He ran the bases but did not stay in the game at third base. He is expected to start in today's series finale.
Arrieta (5-6, 4.96) pitched 61/3 innings and allowed two runs and eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
Wins for the Orioles against the Yankees had been rare before this series, Buck Showalter's first as Baltimore manager against his old club. The Yankees had led the season series, 10-2. Showalter took over the Orioles on Aug. 2. They are 21-13 with him at the helm.
"They've got some young talent over there and they're trying to impress their manager," Sabathia said.