BALTIMORE — CC Sabathia got through his final rehab tuneup Sunday in Tampa just fine and is set to return to the Yankees’ rotation at some point at the end of this week.
And Domingo German did all he could Sunday to make sure it’s not his spot that Sabathia takes.
He made it two straight strong starts to open the season, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning in a 15-3 victory over the Orioles.
“Everything was in the mix today,” catcher Austin Romine said. “There weren’t many comfortable at-bats coming from the other side.”
German, who gave up only an unearned run in five innings April 1 against Detroit, did not allow a hit until Hanser Alberto singled with one out in the sixth. The righthander, who has a 1.64 ERA, ended up allowing two runs and two hits in six innings-plus Sunday, but that was misleading. Lefty Stephen Tarpley came on with two on and none out in the seventh and allowed both inherited runners to score.
“The key today was to mix my pitches and be unpredictable out there,” German said through his translator. “Try to use my changeup in a way that maybe they weren’t expecting. That’s something I’ve worked on between starts, and that worked our very well for me today.”
In the past, German has gotten in trouble because he relied on mostly his fastball and curveball and did not feel confident in his changeup. Improving that pitch was a priority in spring training.
Romine said he was equally impressed with German’s fastball, curveball and changeup Sunday.
“I pretty much felt back there that they didn’t really know what was coming most of the time because he was throwing everything up there,” Romine said. “He had a heavy sinker that was working to keep them honest, was throwing his curveball anytime and his changeup he really leaned on there in the middle innings. It was impressive. A lot of strikes [60 of 89 pitches], a lot of swings-and- misses, a lot of weak contact.”
The Yankees started the season with Sabathia and Luis Severino on the injured list. German has been filling in along with Jonathan Loaisiga, another young pitcher whom the Yankees are high on and who will start Tuesday in Houston. Severino won’t be back until May at the earliest.
Aaron Boone said he won’t get ahead of himself in saying who will be bumped from the rotation.
“He’s going to play a big role for us,” Boone said of German. “I feel like answering that question’s getting so far ahead of ourselves . . . Domingo’s playing a big role for us now. I see him playing a big role for us throughout the season.”
German was happy to hear that.
“It feels great,” he said. “A vote of confidence coming from your manager, I feel if he’s giving that belief in me, I have to return the favor and do that out there on the field. That’s my focus every time I go out there. Keep putting good outings out there.”