Commentary

CC may be getting -- gasp -- even better

With his two early gems, the Yankees ace has never owned April like this before

Updated: April 17, 2010, 12:31 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The air was cool and wet as big No. 52 located with the precision of a GPS. If not for all the empty seats, it could have been October because CC Sabathia was punching out batter after batter. In a whirlwind of K's, he struck out six consecutive Texas Rangers, five of them swinging, all looking silly.

Friday night, the no-hitter suspense ended quickly for Sabathia -- the second batter of the game, Michael Young, hit a hard infield single off Derek Jeter's glove -- but Sabathia basically continued where he left off in Tampa nearly a week ago when he was four outs from a no-hitter.

Of his 73 pitches, an incredible 58 were strikes.

[+] EnlargeCC Sabathia
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesCC Sabathia has struggled in Aprils of the past. Not this one.

"That's about as good as we've seen him," Joe Girardi said after the New York Yankees' six-inning, rain shortened, 5-1 win over the Rangers.

With his six innings of one-run, nine-strikeout ball, Sabathia looks as if he is going to crush April, which has always been his worst month. With his dominance -- he didn't let the Rangers even put the ball in play from the end of the first until the end of the third -- Sabathia is in the midst of destroying the last blemish on his résumé.

In the past, Sabathia might not have been Mark Teixeira-bad early in the year, but he has not been good. Entering Friday night, he was 13-12 with a 4.48 ERA in his career in March and April.

In the opener at Fenway, he did blow the lead, giving up five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, but he was nearly historic this past Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays, and on Friday made Texas' sticks look just as meek.

Texas kept falling behind 0-1 and 0-2, flailing at pitches as if Sabathia were throwing a Wiffle ball.

"They definitely helped," Sabathia said. "They were hacking. They were swinging."

They were missing, which usually doesn't really start happening until next month for Sabathia.

In May, Sabathia's career numbers are 28-14 with a 3.28 ERA. He becomes unbeatable in August (33-9 with a 3.14 ERA) and September and October (25-12, 2.73 ERA), which is why, with his relaxed demeanor, it always seemed as if playoff success was only a matter of time and opportunity.

Sabathia, 29, just understands his position, enjoys it and respects it. He doesn't big-time anyone. You are just as likely to see him at a Knicks game with a clubhouse attendant as with a teammate.

He is the one who changed the clubhouse the most last year -- because of his inclusive nature, but, more important, because of his exclusive talent level. He gives the Yankees congeniality and confidence, which brings us to the scary part about Sabathia.

Is he better than you thought he would be? When the Yankees overwhelmed him with an offer of $160 million and some change, what did you think they were getting? Everyone knew he was good, but did you think he would be this good? Were you worried they had to give him an extra $40 million to persuade him to live on the East Coast?

Did you think he would pitch every three days in October and dominate? Did you think he was better than Johan Santana? He has answered every question, probably better than anyone could have thought. Now, he is taking care of April.

If you listen to Girardi -- this actually might be the scariest part for the rest of the league -- Sabathia might be getting better.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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