- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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It has been like that since he arrived in the Bronx and it was like that Saturday against the Boston Red Sox.
With the Yankees universe stopping for a moment during batting practice as Alex Rodriguez writhed in pain like he were a World Cup soccer player, Sabathia did what he always does -- he calmed everything down, rested the bullpen and won.
Sabathia put up eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits in the Yankees' 5-2 victory. With Andy Pettitte on the disabled list, Javier Vazquez with a "dead arm," A.J. Burnett scheduled for Sunday against Josh Beckett and Dustin Moseley slated for Monday versus Jon Lester, Sabathia just erased the pressure from the Yankees' starters and the bullpen.
Sabathia eliminates problems, while making everyone looks better. Manager Joe Girardi's baseball IQ didn't change from the playoff-less 2008 to the World Series title in 2009; he just added Sabathia. Mark Teixeira and Burnett arrived, too, but Sabathia was the signing if the Yankees are in the midst of a new dynasty.
"Mike Mussina was an ace that year," Girardi said of 2008, Mussina's final season, in which he won 20 games. "But the difference is that CC is more an innings-eater as well. He is going to give you a lot of innings. A lot of times, your bullpen is not going to be used a lot and that is very helpful. Because at times, when you are in long streaks, your bullpen needs a day. CC is some kind of pitcher."
Sabathia pitched on three days' rest in October, eliminating mop-up man Chad Gaudin from starting a World Series game. Sabathia will likely do it again this fall, even though he just spins the odometer. In his previous four starts, he averaged 117 pitches, topping out at 123.
On Saturday, with his fastball on and with umpire Jerry Layne's huge strike zone, Sabathia needed only 101 pitches before he handed off to Mariano Rivera for the ninth.
Rivera closed out what was Sabathia's 14th win of the season and 150th of his career. Sabathia just turned 30, so 300 wins for his career is a possibility.
"That is so far away," Sabathia said of 300. "You have to have a lot of things go right. We just have to wait and see what happens."
Sabathia, though, seems to make a lot of good things happen, even when he faces a little trouble.
By the time the eighth inning rolled around, Sabathia was in total control. To end the eighth, he struck out David Ortiz for the third time. It took Sabathia just three pitches. A curveball and a slider were called strikes before Ortiz swung threw a curve in the dirt.
Ortiz and other hitters, including Yankees, complained about Layne's strike zone all day.
"I think anytime hitters don't like a strike zone, pitchers do," Sabathia said.
After the Ortiz strikeout, Sabathia's final out of the game, the crowd of 49,716 stood for the big man as he walked off. It was a similar walk that A-Rod had made more theatrically hours earlier.
As Sabathia approached the dugout, Derek Jeter gave him a fist-pound while several of his teammates walked up the steps to congratulate him.
Jeter is the first to say that the difference between championship Yankees teams and the teams that left October early was the pitching. These days it starts with Sabathia and, more times than not, he ends all of the Yankees' problems.
On Saturday, Sabathia made A-Rod's shin a little less of a pain and, more importantly, he didn't put added pressure on Burnett's head for Sunday night.
2hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
3hAnthony Witrado, Special to ESPN.com
1dAnthony Witrado, Special to ESPN.com