But the Yankees' ace barely lit up the radar gun -- his fastball loitered in the 88-90 mph range -- and he allowed eight hits, all of them singles, to a relatively weak-hitting Marlins club.
New York Yankees
In his first start against opposing hitters since offseason elbow cleanup surgery -- he had thrown two simulated games against some minor league teammates -- Sabathia allowed singles to the first two hitters he faced, and then walked Kevin Kouzmanoff to load the bases. He was fortunate to escape with only two runs when third baseman Ronnier Mustelier made a good play on a slow roller to turn a double play, which scored one run. Rob Brantly then followed with a hard-hit single to right to drive in the second run.
Sabathia had two runners on again in the second, but escaped damage when Donovan Solano lined out to second, and he escaped again in the fourth, when the Marlins put runners on first and second with two out before CC got Juan Pierre to fly out to end the inning.
Sabathia settled down to throw a 1-2-3 fifth inning. He had two strikeouts, both on off-speed pitches, the first on a changeup to Brantly in the third and the second on a slider to Matt Downs in the fourth.
Earlier in the spring, Sabathia had said his repaired elbow felt much better than last season, when he needed two DL stints and tailed off in effectiveness over the second half of the season. "At least this year I'll have more than 88 [mph] to work with," he said.
Today, he had a little more than that. But not much.