When the Yankees’ season ended Tuesday night, so might have CC Sabathia’s time with the team.
In a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox in Game 4 of the ALDS, sending Boston to the American League Championship Series and the Yankees into another winter, Sabathia allowed three runs and lasted only three innings — and even that might have been too long.
Sabathia, 38, will be a free agent in a few weeks. He made it clear Monday that he wants to play in 2019, but whether it’s with the Yankees is another question. In the same position last offseason, Sabathia signed a one-year, $10-million deal to stay in the Bronx.
If it’s up to Sabathia, the parties will come to an agreement along those lines again. He believes in this version of the Yankees.
“Any time a season ends, it’s disappointing,” Sabathia said. “But you have to keep going. This is a very, very young team that has a lot of talent that’s going to win the World Series. And I want to be here to be a part of it.”
Tuesday night was Sabathia’s 18th postseason start with the Yankees, tying him with Roger Clemens for third in franchise history. Only Andy Pettitte (40) and Whitey Ford (22) had more. It was the first time in eight home playoff starts as a Yankee that Sabathia allowed more than two runs, and his shortest playoff start since the 2011 ALDS.
The game — and, ultimately, the season — came undone as Aaron Boone let Sabathia toil throughout that final frame, the Red Sox knocking him around for a trio of runs.
The first two batters reached, Andrew Benintendi when he was hit by a pitch and Steve Pearce on a single to center. J.D. Martinez’s sacrifice fly to center drove in Benintendi. Steve Pearce advanced to third on Sabathia’s wild pitch with two outs, and back-to-back hits from Ian Kinsler (a double) and Eduardo Nuñez (a single) made it a three-run game.
Sabathia allowed five hits and two walks, striking out one and stranding five runners. He threw 59 pitches. In the top of the fourth, Sabathia exited in favor of Zach Britton as the parade of Yankees relievers began.
“I felt good. My stuff was there,” Sabathia said. “I got no complaints. They hit some soft contact. Kinsler hit that ball hard, but the rest of that — I’ll take that any day.”
Said Boone, noting that the plan was to leave Sabathia in through Jackie Bradley Jr., who made the last out of the inning: “I was fine with the way CC was throwing the ball.”
However the offseason plays out, Sabathia has already etched himself into a spot in Yankees lore. On the team’s all-time pitcher leaderboards, he ranks fourth in strikeouts (1,593), seventh in starts (284) and second in hit-batsman (70) — the most recent of which came in his regular-season finale, Sept. 27, when he plunked Rays catcher Jesus Sucre as a form of retaliation for Tampa Bay’s Andrew Kittredge throwing a pitch behind the head of catcher Austin Romine.
If this was the end for Sabathia as a Yankee, he said he hopes to be remembered “just as a good teammate, a guy that cared about these guys a lot and pushed and was trying to win a championship every time out.”
“That’s all you can ask for I guess,” Sabathia said. “Hopefully my teammates see me like that.”
Count Aaron Judge among those who indeed view Sabathia as that.
“I’ve been blessed these past couple of years to be around him and learn from him and see how he treats people,” Judge said. “When I came in my first spring training as a minor leaguer, he acted like I had known him for 10 years. That’s the way he treated me. That’s something special.
“It don’t matter how he’s feeling that day, what’s going on, he’s going to be out there on that mound every five days. He’s going to pick you up when you’re down. He’s going to be in your corner at all times. I’ve never had another teammate like that.”