CC Sabathia and Aaron Hicks, neither of whom were on the roster for the Division Series, both made their 2019 postseason debuts in the Yankees’ 3-2, 11-inning loss to the Astros in Game 2 of the ALCS on Sunday night in Houston.
Sabathia came out of the bullpen to start the bottom of the 10th inning with the game tied at 2 and retired the only batter he faced, Michael Brantley, on a grounder to short.
It was the 39-year-old’s first appearance since Sept. 24, when he threw a scoreless inning against the Rays in preparation for a postseason relief role.
But a sore shoulder put Sabathia’s plans on hold. He sat out the ALDS and was added to the roster for the ALCS, ready to help out of the pen if manager Aaron Boone needed it.
Once Sunday’s game went to extra innings, Boone needed it.
Brantley, the Astros leftfielder, was once involved in a trade with Sabathia, who will retire at season's end. That was in 2008, when the Indians dealt Sabathia to the Brewers for three players and one player to be named later. That player later turned out to be Brantley.
Sabathia signed with the Yankees before the next season and led them to the 2009 World Series title as the No. 1 starter. He’s hoping to bookend his career with another title as a member of the bullpen.
Sabathia fell behind Brantley 3-and-0 before throwing a strike and then inducing the groundout. Boone came out and took the ball to end the third relief appearance of Sabathia’s 19-year career.
"I’m just glad I was able to get the job done and get Brantley out,” Sabathia said. “I felt pretty good. I’ll go in [Monday] and get some treatment and continue to work.”
Hicks, who had been out with a right elbow injury, got into his first game since Aug. 3 as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning for Cameron Maybin, who started in leftfield with Giancarlo Stanton out with a strained quad. Hicks hit a hard grounder to first and stayed in the game in center."I felt great,” Hicks said. “The opportunity presented itself and I was able to get out there and play. That felt amazing to do.”
Maybin went 1-for-2 with a walk. Hicks could start Tuesday’s Game 3 at Yankee Stadium against righthander Gerrit Cole if Stanton is unable to play.
"I feel great,” Hicks said. “My body feels good and I feel ready. If I get the opportunity, I’m going to be ready for it.”
Hicks didn’t get any balls hit his way in center. He was asked if he thought about what it might be like after the elbow injury to have to unleash a throw, especially when the Astros had two men on in the 10th and a base hit could win the game.
"I don’t think about it at all,” Hicks said. “I didn’t think about it until you just said that.”