NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — It’s been a long road back for CC Sabathia. After both knee and heart surgery at the end of 2018, the 38-year-old announced that whenever he returned to the mound it would be for his final big league season.
On Saturday, the lefty made his return and looked like a future Hall of Famer in a storybook debut.
Sabathia began his 19th and final campaign with five stellar innings, pinch-hitter Luke Voit came through with a broken-bat RBI single in the seventh and the New York Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox 4-0 Saturday to end a four-game slide.
Sabathia allowed one hit and no other baserunners in his return from the injured list, and Domingo German (3-0) followed by striking out four in two overpowering innings.
José Rondón had Chicago’s only hit, but the second baseman also booted a likely double play grounder to set up Voit’s hit. With the bases loaded, New York’s beefy, breakout slugger split his bat in two but still muscled a single to center against Ryan Burr for a 1-0 lead. Kyle Higashioka followed with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right, and Tyler Wade brought in another run with a safety squeeze.
Aaron Judge homered into the short right field porch in the eighth; just sneaking his fourth of the season over the 314-foot mark to pad New York’s lead.
White Sox starter Ivan Nova (0-2) dueled with Sabathia, pitching four-hit ball into the seventh. He was pulled after allowing Gleyber Torres’ leadoff single, and the former Yankee right-hander was cheered by some Bronx fans as he walked off.
Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman closed things out with a perfect inning each for New York, a refreshingly clean showing for a struggling, short-handed bullpen. The Yankees have led in 13 of 14 games this season yet are just 6-8.
Chicago has lost six of seven and dropped to 4-9.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone kept the 38-year-old Sabathia on a short leash in his first start following his offseason operations. The big left-hander worked effectively with his cut fastball and slider against a righty-heavy lineup. He struck out three, raising his career total to 2,989, and only threw 62 pitches.
Sabathia became the first Yankees starter to pitch at least five innings, allow no runs and no more than one baserunner without getting a win, according to The Athletic.
Including an almost identical line in his last outing against Tampa Bay in September, Sabathia is the first major leaguer to throw at least five scoreless innings with one-or-fewer hits and no walks in consecutive starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
German picked up the win in relief after Voit’s clutch hit. The young slugger – who originally had the day off – continues to make the most of his opportunities.
His teammate and fellow first baseman Greg Bird however, seems to be squandering another in his endless chances to perform for the major league club. Bird went 0-for-4 Saturday and drew loud boos from the Bronx crowd before Voit’s insertion into the lineup. Bird’s average has now fallen to .171, with a single home run and RBI so far in 2019.
Players wore short sleeves and sunglasses a night after a swampy, rain-shortened win by the White Sox. Pitchers on both teams struggled to grip the ball in Chicago’s 9-6 victory.
No such issues Saturday. Nova and Sabathia were all over the strike zone, allowing a combined five baserunners over the first five innings — two of those were erased by a pair of White Sox double plays. Time of game was a crisp 2:28.
GOTTA GLOVE IT:
Yankees second baseman Tyler Wade made a diving stop on Welington Castillo’s grounder leading off the third. Sabathia pointed his glove toward Wade in appreciation. Two batters later, center fielder Brett Gardner covered a lot of ground to make a sliding catch on Adam Engel’s flare. That got two arms up from Sabathia.
Yankees RHP Dellin Betances received a cortisone shot to treat inflammation around a bone spur in his right shoulder. He plans to rest for three weeks before resuming throwing, with a goal of returning to the bullpen in six to seven weeks.
OF Giancarlo Stanton (strained left biceps) is hitting off a tee and soft toss, but not with 100 percent effort. He’s still unsure if he’ll need a minor league rehab assignment.
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 1.47) has been the only Yankees starter to reliably work late into games. He’ll get the ball in the series finale against White Sox LHP Carlos Rodón.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)