CC Sabathia struggles in loss to Red Sox

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Coming off a loss last night, the Yankees needed the vintage CC Sabathia or a reasonable facsimile to show up this afternoon against the Red Sox. It didn’t happen.

Sabathia was touched up for five runs on nine hits and four walks over six innings as part of a 5-1 loss. After beginning the afternoon with a perfect first inning, he was scored upon in each of the next four innings. The veteran left-hander now has a 4.90 ERA for the year, including a 6.58 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break.

While Sabathia labored, Jon Lester was brilliant for Boston, giving up just one run on three hits and two walks over eight innings. He now owns a 2.37 ERA over 11 starts during the second half and has allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of them.

The Red Sox currently sit at 91-59 on the year while their magic number to clinch the AL East is down to five. Meanwhile, the 79-70 Yankees find themselves 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot with 13 games remaining. With a crowded field in the race, the Yankees can’t afford many more missteps. They’ll attempt to salvage one tomorrow night when Ivan Nova goes up against Clay Buchholz.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉