Commentary

Sabathia's undoing: selection, naturally

After another road loss, Yankees ace says Mets exploited his 'bad pitch selection'

Updated: May 24, 2010, 2:01 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- After being knocked out in his showdown with Johan Santana, CC Sabathia explained what happened. His terrible outing had nothing to do with his left arm and everything to do with his head.

"I just made some wrong decisions," Sabathia said after the Yankees' 6-4 loss to the Mets.

On Sunday night, Sabathia gave up six runs (five earned) and lasted only five innings. He gave up two bombs to Jason Bay, continuing a seven-game stretch in which Sabathia has given up at least one homer per game. His previous career long was five games.

"It was bad pitch selection," Sabathia said.

The Yankees now leave the Subway Series going in the wrong direction. Their big week against the Red Sox, Rays and Mets has ended with five losses in seven games. They are off on Monday before they try to end the turmoil in Minnesota.

[+] EnlargeCC Sabathia
AP Photo/Kathy WillensCC Sabathia hangs his head while Jason Bay rounds the bases after one of his two homers.

The Yankees are six back of the runaway Rays in the AL East. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays and Red Sox are suddenly lurking. Toronto is just a game behind the Yankees, while the Red Sox are 2½ back.

When asked to describe what happened this past week, Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke about frustration and then belted out "Annie" lyrics.

"The sun will come up tomorrow," Girardi said.

As bad as the start was for Sabathia, it could have been worse. In the first, Sabathia escaped after loading the bases. Sometimes an ace like Sabathia will settle down and pitch his normal game after an inning like that. On Sunday night, there was no settling.

The Mets smacked Sabathia around in the second. After Rod Barajas' leadoff double, Sabathia took advantage of the weak-hitting Jeff Francoeur and Santana. He struck out both and it appeared he might escape again. That was not the case.

Instead, Jose Reyes singled, and he and Barajas scored on Alex Cora's single. Sabathia was up 0-2 on Cora but couldn't put him away.

Sabathia second-guessed himself, saying he should have made Cora chase a pitch out of the zone before it got to 3-2 and Cora came through by hitting a 95 mph fastball to center.

Then Bay stepped to the plate. Bay got ahead 2-1 and waited on an 86 mph changeup. Often, that is how Bay is beat. Not this time. Afterward, Sabathia specifically mentioned this choice as a bad one.

"I probably would have thrown him something hard," Sabathia said.

Bay crunched a two-run jack into the left-field seats and Sabathia trailed Santana by four runs.

"When we make a mistake, we pay," Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli said.

In the fifth, Bay made Sabathia pay again. On a 1-0 sinker, Bay smashed Sabathia the opposite way, hitting a solo shot. An Ike Davis single, a passed ball and a David Wright RBI single later, it was 6-0. Sabathia, after 93 pitches, never made it to the sixth.

Sabathia has been lamenting in a lot of road clubhouses lately. While he is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three starts at home, he is 2-3 with a 4.96 ERA away. This is out of character for Sabathia, who has had an ERA of less than four every year since 2006.

Sabathia will have to live with this Sunday night for the next week. Fortunately for him, his next start will be at Yankee Stadium.

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

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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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