CC Sabathia shakes off postseason slump with big outing

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CC Sabathia managed to avoid taking any losses during the Yankees’ all too brief postseason runs in 2010 and 2011, but he couldn’t sidestep the criticism  The game’s highest-paid pitcher, he was far from an ace in amassing a 5.84 ERA in 24 2/3 innings the last two Octobers.

Sabathia’s 2012 postseason got off to a much better start Sunday, as he limited the Orioles to two runs in 8 2/3 innings to pick up a win in Game 1 of the ALDS. It was the first time since the 2009 World Series that Sabathia completed seven innings in a postseason start.

Sabathia was stellar when the Yankees won the World Series in his first year with the team, going 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five starts. Still, Yankee fans have short memories, and his more recent outings in series losses to the Rangers and Tigers left them cold. He gave up six runs and walked eight in 8 2/3 innings in last year’s ALDS defeat.

For his career, Sabathia is now 8-4 in the postseason, albeit with a mediocre 4.60 ERA. He came within one out tonight of what would have been his first postseason complete game in 16 tries.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.