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.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.