By Jon Lane
CC Sabathia is on track to become New York’s top attraction this summer.
Last night he struck out seven over seven innings and allowed one run on three hits to win his third straight start. The big guy has allowed just two earned runs over in his last 24 innings while lowering his ERA from 4.85 to 3.43. To put it in perspective, the last time Sabathia lost was May 2, when he allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Sabathia has pitched into the seventh inning five straight starts. The Yankees haven’t had that trusted horse to either stop a losing streak or extend a winning streak while preserving the bullpen since 2003. As my colleague Jerome Preisler put it, Sabathia is an Ace with a capital ‘A.’ He covered last night’s game for us and best summed up what lies ahead this summer in these words:
Over his last several outings, CC has risen to the level of his advance billing and become the ace of the Yankee pitching staff. I am thinking now that the nights he takes the mound in the Bronx are going to become events in New York City, nights you want to be at the ballpark if at all possible.
If not the ballpark, you’ll want to line the tri-state area’s plethora of sports bars, jam the Hard Rock Cafe at Yankee Stadium, or settle into your easy chair when Sabathia’s on tap, or for that matter anytime the Yankees play, period. The Yankees are going to lose eventually, and inevitably hit the skids, but someone like Sabathia stops losing streaks from spinning out of control. When the ball is in his hand, you get excited. You want to see him work and dominate the opposition. He got Milwaukee jacked over something other than Green Bay Packers football last October. This is why the Yankees had to have him and they got him.
Jerome shared a funny moment that didn’t make his piece due to space constraints. It went down during his trip to Fenway Park a few weeks back.
I saw this guy behind a soda bar in the press area and thought he worked there.
“How you doin’?” I asked.
“Fine,” he said.
“Can I have Coke?” I said.
He looked at me and started chuckling. “Sure . . . diet or regular.”
“Regular,” I said.
He scooped some ice in my cup and filled it under the spout and was still laughing at some private joke as he handed it to me.
That was when I got a recognized him as Tom Werner, Chairman and co-owner of the Boston Red Sox.
“Enjoy!” he said.
I stood gaping and didn’t even tell the story till now, that’s how embarrassed I was.
You can be sure I won’t clap tonight.