CC Sabathia disappoints as Rays down Yankees

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CC Sabathia is the game’s highest-paid hurler, but David Price has pretty obviously supplanted him as the AL East’s best pitcher. Tampa Bay’s ace picked up his league-leading 18th win Friday as the Rays topped the Yankees 6-4.

Price allowed two runs in seven innings to become the AL’s first to 18 victories. Sabathia gave up four runs in 6 2/3 innings to drop to 13-6. The Yankees have lost each of his last four starts.

The Yankees did make a late charge in the eighth, when Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off Joel Peralta to make it a 5-4 game. The typically reliable Peralta then exited with a man on first  and one out, with Rays manager Joe Maddon asking Fernando Rodney to get five outs. That’s exactly what happened, as Rodney allowed just one batter to reach via a walk. The Rays got an insurance run on an Eduardo Nunez error in the top of the ninth.

Rodney’s save was his 43rd of the season. He has an insane 0.66 ERA through 68 innings.

Sabathia won his first start after returning from a brief DL stint last month, but he’s 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA in four starts since. Tonight’s outing was the first in the last five in which he didn’t give up a homer. He’s allowed a career-high 21 homers in 176 innings for the season after allowing 17 homers in 237 1/3 innings last year.

The win leaves the Rays three behind the Yankees in the AL East. They’ll also pick up a game on  either Baltimore or Oakland tonight, since those two are playing each other.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.