First, Ivan Nova decided to have season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery. Then Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games for using pine tar.
After those developments were announced Thursday, Sabathia went out and threw six solid innings in his second straight strong start and New York beat the sloppy Boston Red Sox 14-5.
''He's taken the mindset since spring training he needs to be the ace of this staff,'' Yankees catcher Brian McCann said. ''He gave us a great outing.''
He had plenty of help from both teams.
Yangervis Solarte drove in four runs, Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and three RBIs and Mark Teixeira hit his first homer of the season. Boston's contributions included five errors, 12 walks - five by knuckleball throwing utilityman Mike Carp in the ninth - three wild pitches and a passed ball. The Red Sox also allowed three stolen bases, all in the third inning.
''The sooner we move past this one the better,'' Boston manager John Farrell said.
Sabathia (3-2) struck out eight while allowing two runs on three hits in six innings as the Yankees rebounded from a 5-1 loss Wednesday night in which Pineda was ejected in the second inning for having pine tar on his neck.
''It felt good to get a win. I just wanted to have a good outing,'' Sabathia said. ''I know our bullpen has been taxed.''
After allowing at least four runs in each of his first starts, he rebounded with a one-run, seven-inning performance at Tampa Bay a week before facing Boston.
''CC can be a guy to get on some rolls,'' New York manager Joe Girardi said.
The costliest stretch for the Red Sox was the first three innings when they fell behind 7-0. They made four errors, allowed three stolen bases and had a wild pitch and passed ball.
''Every team goes through slumps hitting, goes through slumps defensively,'' Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. ''It's part of the game. We're definitely going to get better. That's not the kind of team that we are.''
Felix Doubront (1-3) retired the first two batters of the game before Carlos Beltran reached on an error by Bogaerts and scored on a double by Alfonso Soriano.
The Yankees added three runs in the second. Brett Gardner led off with a walk before second baseman Dustin Pedroia dropped third baseman Brock Holt's throw for an error, allowing Brian Roberts to reach first. Solarte then doubled in two runs, took third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
Teixeira started the three-run third with his homer before Gardner reached on Doubront's error. Gardner stole second and third and scored on Brian Roberts' single. Roberts stole second then made it 7-0 when Ellsbury's single drove him in. Ellsbury took second on center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.'s error but was stranded.
Boston cut the lead to 7-2 in the third on a sacrifice fly by David Ortiz and an RBI double by Johnny Gomes.
New York added five runs in the seventh when all nine batters against Craig Breslow reached base, including Beltran on a forceout at second. Solarte and Derek Jeter had two-run singles and Ellsbury doubled in a run.
Boston cut the lead to 12-5 in the bottom of the seventh, scoring on a double by Bogaerts, a sacrifice fly and a passed ball by McCann.
Carp made his major league pitching debut in the ninth and allowed one run on five walks.
''It was definitely a cool experience,'' he said, ''unfortunately, a bad situation to come into.''
NOTES: After the game Holt was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. 3B Will Middlebrooks is expected to be activated from the disabled list Friday. ... Boston RF Shane Victorino made his 2014 debut after being activated from the disabled list before the game. He had been sidelined with a hamstring injury and the flu. ... Sabathia passed Al Downing for 10th place in New York's all-time strikeout list with 1,031. ... The last time Boston made five errors was Apr. 28, 2001, against the Kansas City Royals. ... Meghan Duggan, the captain of the U.S. women's hockey team that won the silver medal this year, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Jake Peavy (0-0) pitches for the Red Sox on Friday night when they open a three-game series in Toronto. Mark Buehrle (4-0) pitches for the Blue Jays. The Yankees return home for a three-game series against the Angels with Hiroki Kuroda (2-1) pitching against C.J. Wilson (2-2) for Los Angeles. ... Boston's David Ortiz set a major league record with his 1,644th game as a designated hitter. He broke the mark held by Harold Baines.