Sabathia, who turns 31 today, has been terrific for the Yankees of late, winning his last seven and 11 of his previous 12 starts. The left-hander’s latest masterpiece came on Saturday in Toronto, as he allowed a run and three hits over eight innings to run his record to 14-4, while lowering his earned run average to 2.64.
“The fastball command got better,” said Sabathia, who retired 14 of the final 16 hitters he faced. “I had runners on early because I didn’t have it, but I threw everything off that. We stuck with it, and it ended up being a good start.”
The run allowed was his first in four starts and just his second in his last five outings.
“The last three months,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said, “there hasn’t been a guy better in baseball.”
Tampa knows first hand just how dominant Sabathia has been lately, as he struck out nine in a four-hit shutout over the Rays in the final game before the All-Star break. He is 9-5 lifetime against Tampa with a 3.04 ERA in 21 starts.
The Yankees got a magnificent effort from Freddy Garcia on Wednesday, as he tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings in New York’s 4-0 triumph.
Garcia (8-7) scattered eight hits and struck out seven without a walk, while Curtis Granderson slugged a two-run home run in the win, the Yankees’ fourth in five games.
David Price (9-8) went 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five as the Rays lost for the sixth time in their last eight games.
“These shutouts are really tough to watch sometimes,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s similar to the beginning of the season when we had that very difficult start. We’re just not swinging the bats well in this ballpark. It’s so difficult to understand.”
The Rays will rely on an impressive hurler of their own tonight in righty James Shields, who is 8-8 on the year with a 2.60 ERA. Shields was roughed up in his first start after the break, as the Boston Red Sox reached him for six runs and six hits in six innings.
Shields was a hard-luck loser to Sabathia and the Yanks in that July 10 outing. He allowed just an unearned run in eight innings of that one, dropping him to 3-10 all-time versus the Bronx Bombers to go along with a 4.47 ERA.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Shields said. “I’m sure CC is ready to rock over there, and we’re going to go at it.”
The Yankees have won five of eight against Tampa Bay this season.