Nobody loved CC Sabathia more than I did. I still love the hefty lefty and root for him. You know you all were in the tank for him last season when he made his incredible run to the playoffs with Milwaukee. It was different then – the Brewers are essentially a NL version of the Tribe. Small market team, hadn’t been to the playoffs in ages, going for broke even though they had no shot to keep CC long-term.
But after his amazing regular season where he went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA for the Brew Crew, CC was completely spent by the time his first postseason start rolled around. That is what five straight starts on three days rest and 253 innings pitched does to you. He couldn’t make it out of the fourth in his NLDS start against the eventual World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
He gets a mulligan for that.
But in 2007 as a member of the Tribe, he won the Cy Young award and was lined up as the team’s #1 starter in the ALDS against the New York Yankees. In Game One in Cleveland, CC was way too charged up. Sabathia earned the win despite walking six in five innings, and departed after throwing 114 pitches. Luckily for him, the Tribe staked him to a 4-2 lead before exploding for five runs in the bottom of the fifth.
I chalked that up to first game jitters. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a one game stumble. In a Game One ALCS loss to Boston, CC couldn’t make it out of the fifth, allowing eight earned runs on seven hits and five walks. But his team took the next three games and handed the ball to him in front of the home fans at Jacobs Field with a trip to the World Series resting on his arm.
What did he do? Six innings, 10 hits, four earned runs, and a loss. You know what has happened to the Indians organization since then.
So while I am personally happy for CC that he has been able to exorcise his postseason demons as a member of the evil empire Yankees, it pains me to ask the man “where was this two years ago when you could have made yourself a Tribe lifetime legend?”
In three starts, a much better rested Sabathia is 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA and an 0.88 WHIP. He has allowed just three earned runs on 17 hits in 22.2 IP. He also has a 20/3 strikeout to walk ratio. Pretty impressive. But as our ole’ buddy Scott just said to me “its much easier to relax with a 10 run lead.” CC’s eight inning, one run performance on three days rest last night was very impressive. He has shaken off his past and has been worth every dollar the Yankees spent on him this past winter.
Ironically, we are just one win away from a CC/Cliff Lee World Series Game one armageddon that would make all Tribe fans cringe. Don’t think that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel isn’t salivating over the opportunity to start Cliff against CC to stick it to the man who fired him, Mark Shapiro.