This was it. No more favours from the weather to keep them in the postseason for another day.
The New York Yankees, facing an embarrassing departure from the 2012 ALCS handed to them by the Detroit Tigers, turned to their undisputed ace CC Sabathia to save the team from that unflattering fate.
So Sabathia, the man who so thoroughly dominated the Baltimore Orioles in the division series, took the mound, once again ready to carry this flailing juggernaut of a club on his back.
Then he promptly imploded.
In what was the second-worst start of his postseason career, Sabathia simply didn’t have enough of whatever it was that would allow him to play the savior role this afternoon – giving up six runs (five earned), and being chased from the mound after just three and two-third innings. The hits off the big lefty were plentiful – eleven in all – but the most pivotal of them came off the bat of Miguel Cabrera, whose two-run homer off Sabathia to give the Tigers the 4-0 lead was the culmination of a stressful trio of innings prior, with Sabathia giving up runners in scoring positions each time out.
That Jhonny Peralta added his own two-run shot two batters later was something you could call a mistake, born out of Sabathia’s frustration – a slider that didn’t bite hard enough.
That’s not really true though, is it? Not with Sabathia, whose pitched at the biggest stage of the game for so many years. Aces are supposed to ignore trouble, and power through it; give their team a chance to win, so to speak. If you’ve watched Justin Verlander over the years, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. That’s the sort of expectation that falls of Sabathia each time he takes the mound, and he’s been no stranger to it over his Yankees years, as one of the handful of ace pitchers in the league.
So I don’t really buy the idea that Sabathia crumbled under the pressure of being down a few runs. What I do buy, on the other hand, is that he could no longer carry this team – not when it’s in such disarray, anyhow. Not when Mark Teixeira is giving up key errors to extend innings. Not when Alex Rodriguez watches from the bench, as trade rumors swirl around him. Not when the Yankees machine can’t generate any offense; it’s hard to give your team a chance to win, when they don’t give you a chance to do so.
Did Sabathia let the team down? Maybe you could say that. Or maybe, Sabathia was simply dragged down by a Yankees team flailing at anything (including Raul Ibanez) on their way to playoff elimination.