The New York Yankees ace looks to continue his mastery of the Mariners in the opener of a three-game set in the Bronx on Friday night.
Seattle (50-57) lost two of three at home to New York (61-43) from July 23-25, with the Yankees acquiring Ichiro Suzuki at the start of the series. The Japanese star went 3 for 12 in those games and has recorded exactly one hit in all nine games with New York.
The Mariners, winners of 13 of 17, have not lost since that series as they try for their first eight-game run since June 23-July 1, 2007.
“I tell you what’s going on, we’re winning games in different fashion,” manager Eric Wedge told the Mariners’ official website. “That’s important to me, and that’s important at this level.”
Sabathia (10-3, 3.57 ERA) has posted a 0.88 ERA during his seven-start win streak over the Mariners, but he’s coming off a rough outing. The left-hander gave up six runs in six innings of an 8-6 loss to Boston on Saturday, though he didn’t get a decision. Sabathia went 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA over his previous five outings.
He’ll be backed up by a bullpen that received a boost Wednesday with the season debut of Joba Chamberlain. The right-hander allowed two runs over 1 2-3 innings of a 12-3 victory over Baltimore that snapped New York’s four-game losing streak.
“I was curious to see how he would do today because I’m sure there’s a lot of emotions,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He threw strikes. I’m happy with that.”
Chamberlain returned from elbow and ankle injuries that had sidelined him since June 5 of last season. His 7.77 career ERA against the Mariners is his worst against any AL club.
While the Mariners have gone 8-2 since dealing away Suzuki, the Yankees are 4-5.
Sluggers Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are recovering from hand injuries, with Rodriguez suffering a fractured left hand when hit by a pitch from Felix Hernandez in the last series against Seattle. Robinson Cano is 3 for 6 with two homers and six RBIs over his last two games after an 0-for-13 skid.
“Here is always pressure because here you’ve got to produce because this thing is all about winning,” Cano said. “Those guys are not here, good thing we’ve got a good bench and hopefully nobody else gets hurt.”
Casey McGehee, acquired from Pittsburgh, started at first and went 0 for 2 with two walks and two runs in his Yankees debut Wednesday.
Cano is 9 for 23 in the season series against Seattle, with Raul Ibanez homering twice and driving in six runs. New York has won four of six from the Mariners.
Seattle’s Kevin Millwood (4-8, 3.90) is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts against New York this year. No Yankee homered against him in those outings, with Curtis Granderson going 0 for 6 with four strikeouts.
Millwood won for the first time since May 23 when he yielded one unearned run over 6 1-3 innings of a 4-3 home win over Kansas City last Saturday. Seattle had dropped his previous six starts.