CC Sabathia seems to be coming back at the right time for the New York Yankees.
The ace returns off the disabled list Friday night to face his former team as he tries to help the visiting Yankees hand the Cleveland Indians a ninth straight loss.
New York (72-52) finished a stretch of 20 games in as many days by being swept in three games in Chicago, losing 2-1 on Wednesday. The Yankees have seen second-place Tampa Bay creep closer in the AL East standings.
"I don't think I'm going to go jump off a bridge or anything like that," manager Joe Girardi said. "As I've said, it's baseball."
Sabathia (12-3, 3.56 ERA), out since Aug. 8 due to left elbow soreness, went through a 38-pitch session Tuesday and proclaimed himself ready to return after his second DL stint.
"It's a big relief that I can go out and throw all my pitches and not be hindered by anything, or feel like I can't throw (a) pitch because it might hurt," Sabathia told the Yankees' official website. "I have none of that, and today just confirmed that. I feel good about going out there on Friday."
Girardi said he will allow the left-hander to throw between 90-100 pitches.
"Well I think you have to watch him on Friday just because he hasn't thrown in two weeks," Girardi said. "He won't be on a normal pitch count where I'd let him go 115 or 120 at this time of the season so I think we'll have to watch a little bit, but not that closely."
Sabathia is 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts against Cleveland. Those decisions have all come in three outings at Progressive Field, where he has a 2.14 ERA with New York.
He could be returning to see a drab atmosphere surrounding his first team, with the Indians (54-70) dropping 21 of 25. The losing caused manager Manny Acta to discuss his job status after Wednesday's 3-1 defeat at Seattle.
"It's never been done in the history of the game where 25 guys are released," Acta said. "They should relax. If one guy is going to go, it's going to be me, not them."
Indians owner Paul Dolan says Acta's job is safe for now, and that he's not planning any overhaul of the team's front office.
"(They) have a lot of work to do, but their jobs aren't at stake in this," Dolan said.
Cleveland owns the AL's worst run differential at minus-131, getting outscored 51-24 in this slide and totaling five runs over its last four games.
Robinson Cano went 6 for 12 with two homers and five RBIs as New York swept three home games from Cleveland from June 25-27. He and the Yankees will face Corey Kluber (0-2, 6.27) for the first time.
The right-hander has failed to last past the fifth inning in three of four outings, pitching five innings and giving up four unearned runs Saturday to suffer an 8-5 loss to the Athletics.
The Yankees welcomed Thursday's off day after the taxing stretch.
"Playing every day is tough enough, you get 20 in a row, it's tough but like I said, most teams do it at some point," said shortstop Derek Jeter, who leads the majors with 169 hits. "You don't like it, but you have to do it."