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For Yankees, CC Sabathia's playoff performance is a bargain

After giving Sabathia a contract worth $161 million, New York is getting their money's worth from him.

October 17, 2009|Kevin Baxter

NEW YORK — When you spend $161 million for something, as the Yankees did for CC Sabathia last winter, you never really figure you'll get your money's worth. But four games into Sabathia's first postseason in New York, you get the impression the Yankees think they got a bargain.

On Friday, Sabathia was about as close to perfect as a pitcher can be in the playoffs, holding the Angels to a run and four hits in eight innings in a 4-1 victory that gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the American League Championship Series.

And his teammates, while impressed, say they have come to expect that from their ace.

"CC was outstanding tonight. Like the way he's been all year," said Alex Rodriguez, who reached base twice and drove in a run. "He had it all working tonight. A mid-90s fastball. An outstanding changeup and a slider to go with it.

"In the eighth inning he was throwing 96, 97 mph. That's pretty impressive."

Added Derek Jeter, one of three Yankees with two hits Friday: "We've been seeing it all year. He's exactly what we thought he would be.

"You couldn't have asked him to do anything more than he did. He was efficient with his pitches. He threw strikes. He challenged guys."

Sabathia set the tone for the Yankees sweep of the Minnesota Twins in the division series, dominating the first game against the Twins in much the same fashion as he dominated the Angels.

Given a two-run cushion in the first, Sabathia never let the Angels back in the game, striking out seven and not giving up a hit after the fourth inning, setting down eight in a row at one point.

Sabathia's record this postseason: 2-0 with a 1.23 earned-run average. Not bad for a guy who came into the month riding a three-game playoff losing streak and toting a postseason ERA of 7.92.

"When he's pitching like this, you don't have to score many runs," first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "Once we got a two- or three-run lead, we knew CC was going to hold it down."

And with New York planning to start Sabathia three times in this series if it goes the distance and the weather holds, that kind of confidence is bad news for the Angels.

In fact, Yankee fans may have done a better job of getting a rise out of Sabathia than the Angels did, chanting his name in unison several times in the latter innings, something several teammates said gave them goosebumps.

"That was a great feeling to have the stadium rocking and to be chanting my name," Sabathia said. "I was pretty pumped up. I don't really show a lot of emotion a lot of times, but it came out of me there."

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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