Although the overall line score for CC Sabathia's start Saturday night against the Rays wasn't a bad one (6.1 innings, six hits, three runs, two walks, seven strikeouts), it once again left the left-hander having to answer questions. Everything was going smoothly the first five innings: just one hit allowed and a two-run lead to protect. All he had to do was get through the sixth, and maybe the seventh, and he could hand the ball off to David Robertson for the eighth inning, or Shawn Kelley/Boone Logan for the seventh, and the Yankees would very well have had themselves a win. Unfortunately, that did not happen, and it lead to another loss at the Trop.
Instead of ending his start on a good note, Sabathia allowed a single to the light-hitting Sam Fuld to lead off the sixth and a four-pitch walk to Desmond Jennings after that. Preston Claiborne immediately started warming in the bullpen and Larry Rothschild paid a visit to the mound after he lefty fell behind 2-0 to Ben Zobrist. After falling behind 3-1, Zobrist proceeded to drill a double towards the left-center field gap. All of a sudden, the game was tied and CC looked finished. Instead of pulling Sabathia, who was clearly laboring, with Evan Longoria due up, who has a history of crushing lefties (career .936 OPS) and CC Sabathia (career 1.348 OPS entering today in 68 plate appearances) Joe Girardi kept his now former ace in and, predictably, the former allowed the go-ahead hit.
Girardi keeping in Sabathia longer than he probably should have isn't anything new. It seems like countless times this year the skipper keeps him in just to get an extra inning in and/or to reach the magical 100 pitch mark. He's been doing this since Sabathia came on board in 2009, but until this season it was understandable; he was an ace and you push your ace the extra mile if you can. However, this season, Sabathia is nowhere near an ace and Girardi should stop treating him like one. If you have a chance to pull him after he gets in a tight spot, like the spot he was in with Longoria at the plate in last night's sixth inning and you have a reliever in the 'pen ready, you pull the trigger and remove the starter. After Friday's game, the bullpen was fresh and you could afford to pull Sabathia after 5+ innings and 86 pitches. That shouldn't have been the problem.
I feel like most fans, and even Girardi, are in a little bit of denial in regards to Sabathia's nightmare season, and to some point, it's understandable. He has been so awesome for so long, it's pretty shocking to see him pitch this poorly after, really, a decade of dominance prior to 2013. That being said, with only a month-plus worth of games remaining (33, to be exact) the Yankees need to realize that Sabathia isn't the same pitcher he was in the past, and he very well may not revert back to his old form this season before the Yankees' playoff chances fully vanish.