CC Sabathia, Carlos Zambrano give up five homers apiece

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With the 2011 scheduled nearly three-quarters completed, just one pitcher had given up five homers in a game, that being the long-since demoted Sean O’Sullivan of the Royals on May 28 against the Rangers.

On Friday night, it happened twice more to two of the game’s highest-paid pitchers.   The Yankees’ CC Sabathia gave up five solo homers — and no other runs — over eight innings in a loss to the Rays, and the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano also surrendered five homers while allowing eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Braves.

After giving up back-to-back homers in the fifth, Zambrano was tossed for throwing at Chipper Jones.

Sabathia, a Cy Young contender trying to become the year’s second 17-game winner, surrendered homers to Casey Kotchman, Kelly Shoppach, Johnny Damon, Elliot Johnson and Evan Longoria.  He had never before allowed more than three homers in a start, and he had given up a total of eight homers in 25 starts this season.

Zambrano, who had turned in four straight quality starts, saw his ERA jump to 4.82 with the showing.  Dan Uggla, riding a 31-game hitting streak, took him deep twice.  Zambrano has allowed 19 homers in 145 2/3 innings this year, two more than he gave up in 299 innings between 2009 and ’10.

It was the first time either the Rays or the Braves had hit five homers in a game this season.

Sabathia became the first Yankees pitcher to give up five homers since David Wells on July 4, 2003 against the Red Sox.  Five Yankees pitchers had done it previously.

Zambrano, meanwhile, was the fourth Cubs pitcher to pull off the feat.  It was done previously by Ismael Valdez on June 11, 2000 against the White Sox.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.