While the New York Yankees survived without their ace pitcher for three weeks, the Toronto Blue Jays may have a tough time making a playoff push with their best slugger on the disabled list.
The Yankees will activate CC Sabathia from the DL and he'll take the ball Tuesday night looking to continue his dominance over a Blue Jays team that will be without Jose Bautista.
Sabathia (9-3, 3.45 ERA) hasn't pitched since facing the New York Mets on June 24, going on the DL a few days later with a strained groin. His first trip to the DL since 2006 was tough to take for the six-time All-Star known for his durability.
"You feel like you're not contributing and helping the team,'' said Sabathia, who has thrown at least 230 innings in each of the last five seasons and is second in the majors with an average of 111.6 pitches per game. "For me it's a little embarrassing.''
The Yankees (55-34) did just fine in his absence, winning 12 of 18 and extending their AL East lead over Baltimore from 2 1/2 games to nine. They won Monday's series opener 6-3 on Raul Ibanez's tiebreaking grand slam with two outs in the eighth inning.
Sabathia missed two starts while sidelined but kept his same between-start throwing routine. He said the pain in his groin has been nonexistent since a bullpen session June 26, and the time away might help his endurance down the stretch.
"I'm going to throw until they tell me to stop,'' he said.
It is uncertain what kind of pitch count Joe Girardi will enforce in his return, but the Blue Jays (45-45) probably hope it's low considering the left-hander has gone 7-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his last eight starts against them. Sabathia's last loss to Toronto came Sept. 4, 2006, while with Cleveland.
Sabathia won't have to worry about facing Bautista - not that those matchups have been much of a concern for the Yankees' top starter.
Bautista, tied for second in the majors with 27 homers, left the opener in the eighth inning after injuring his wrist on a swing. He was diagnosed with inflammation in the area and was placed on the 15-disabled list, with no timetable for his return.
The Jays called up outfielder Anthony Gose, who played in the Futures Game for top prospects last week, from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Toronto, two games out of the second AL wild-card spot, can't afford to lose its most dangerous hitter for an extended time, but Bautista's absence may not have made much of a difference Tuesday. He is hitting .053 with eight strikeouts in 19 career at-bats against Sabathia.
Robinson Cano has experienced similar woes against Brett Cecil (2-1, 6.75), but he enters this contest riding a career-best 19-game hitting streak.
Cano had two hits Monday for his third consecutive multihit game and is batting .413 with six homers, six doubles and 20 RBIs during the run. He has gone 2 for 17 against Cecil since the start of 2010 - his lowest average versus the 18 pitchers he has at least 14 at-bats against in that stretch.
Cecil was knocked around for seven runs in 4 1-3 innings against the Chicago White Sox on July 8, but the Blue Jays won 11-9. It was the second time in three starts the left-hander yielded at least seven runs.
This will be Cecil's first start of the season versus the Yankees after going 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in two starts against them last year.