TAMPA, Fla. — The results will be, and should be, dismissed easily enough because of the time of year. Besides, as one opposing team scout said after CC Sabathia’s outing mercifully ended after two-thirds of an inning: “Tough to get six outs in any inning.”
Make no mistake, the Yankees’ 10-2 loss to the Braves on Sunday at Steinbrenner Field was ugly, lowlighted by their five errors and a Sabathia start in which he allowed six runs (four earned), six hits and a walk in the first inning. Atlanta sent 10 to the plate before the lefthander was sent on his way.
Sabathia threw 33 pitches and went to the bullpen to throw 20 more. He said he felt fine physically and, though it perhaps sounded strange to some, had positive feelings about his stuff as well.
“I thought my cutter was pretty good, the action was pretty good,” he said. “I threw some good changeups. I went down to the bullpen and everything felt good, so I’ll just be ready when it’s time to go again.”
A second opposing team scout generally agreed, though he thought Sabathia struggled with his slider and cutter.
“But we weren’t sitting down there saying, ‘This guy’s cooked,’ ” the scout said. “I mean, he got ground balls, and nobody seemed to want to pick it up and make a play.”
Scouts’ radar guns had Sabathia’s fastball sitting at 87 to 88 mph, his cutter 86-88, his slider 83-84 and his changeup 81-82.
Afterward, Sabathia demonstrated why he’s beloved in the clubhouse, refusing to even acknowledge his fielders’ complicity.
“I had the baserunners there to make some pitches, get a double play,” he said. “I need to pick some of those guys up and do a better job of making pitches and getting out of it.”
The carnage had an innocent enough start when Braves leadoff man Ronald Acuna chopped one to Ronald Torreyes at third and beat it out. Second baseman Starlin Castro booted Brandon Phillips’ grounder and Nick Markakis stroked an RBI single to left. Matt Kemp followed with a smash that deflected off Castro — it was scored a hit — and Kurt Suzuki doubled to left. Rio Ruiz hit a hot shot that deflected off shortstop Jorge Mateo — it also was scored a hit — and Balbino Fuenmayor hit a sacrifice fly that Jacoby Ellsbury read poorly off the bat and nearly missed.
Sabathia struck out Braxton Davidson, but after a double by Sean Kazmar and a walk to Acuna, batting a second time in the inning, the lefthander was pulled.
“I have to do a better job of not letting it unravel and making pitches,” Sabathia said. “I have to make the pitches to get us out of that inning and not turn it into six. Two is fine, six is too much.”
Sabathia, of course, already is in the rotation. This isn’t last spring, when he competed with Ivan Nova, now with the Pirates, for the fifth starter’s spot until the final day of camp. Sabathia, who threw two scoreless innings in his first start Tuesday against Tampa Bay, will start this season in the No. 2 or 3 spot.
Speaking of Sabathia’s stuff, Joe Girardi said: “It looked like it was OK. He got ground balls. Some of the ground balls were hit hard and they took some tricky hops. But it just seemed to snowball a little bit after that.”