Sabathia looks to become the AL’s first 18-game winner and record his eighth straight victory when he takes the mound against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.
New York (94-54) will have its best starter on the mound after a stunning 3-2 loss to Seattle (77-71) on Friday - its fourth defeat in seven games. Ichiro Suzuki(notes) hit a two-run homer off closer Mariano Rivera(notes) in the ninth as Rivera suffered his second blown save of the season and first since April 24 against Boston.
“It just shows he’s human. … We thought we’d go after him and (Mariano) done a pretty good job of that,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Not only did the Yankees suffer a rare loss by Rivera, who had converted 36 consecutive save opportunities, they also were unable to get much going offensively, scoring their fewest runs since a 6-0 loss at Toronto on Sept. 4. Over the next 12 games, New York had scored 70 runs while hitting .322. It had eight hits Friday, scoring on sacrifice flies by Mark Teixeira(notes) and Alex Rodriguez(notes).
Sabathia (17-7, 3.42 ERA) hasn’t needed much offensive support when he’s been on the mound. The left-hander will try to move the Yankees closer to their first AL East title in three years and join St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright(notes) as the majors’ only 18-game winners.
Sabathia has won seven straight decisions and New York has won his last nine starts, during which he has a 2.48 ERA. He pitched seven innings against Baltimore on Sunday, allowing three runs and five hits in the 13-3 victory. Sabathia walked four and only struck out one - his fewest since he also had one against Florida on June 21.
“That was tough,” he said. “I didn’t really have the command and stuff that I’ve had the past about a month and half. I was just trying to do whatever I could to get outs and get the team back in the dugout.”
Sabathia is 5-4 with a 3.21 ERA against the Mariners in his career, splitting two starts against them this year. He beat Seattle at Safeco Field on Aug. 13, allowing one run and three hits in eight innings of an 11-1 victory, striking out 10.
Suzuki is 3 for 7 with two doubles against the burly southpaw this year. The right fielder’s game-winning homer Friday came after he drove in the winning run in a 14-inning victory against the White Sox on Thursday. Suzuki finished with four hits Friday, boosting his average to .406 with six RBIs in the last seven games.
“I was just thinking ‘base hit, base hit,’” Hernandez said. “Then came the homer and I was so excited. It was a great game.”
The rookie right-hander lasted 4 2-3 innings against Texas on Sunday, allowing five runs and 10 hits in a 7-2 loss.
Fister, who began the season at Double-A West Tennessee, made his second major league start and third appearance Aug. 16 against the Yankees, yielding three runs in seven innings of a 10-3 victory.
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