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Saturday, April 27, 2013
First Pitch: Slowed-down Sabathia takes hill

By Andrew Marchand

It is not that CC Sabathia can't be a very good starter in the low-90s, it is just harder to be consistent. The difference in pumping his fastball in the mid-90s compared to the high-80s or low-90s is the those few miles per hour can separate a guy with a $161 million contract and someone with half that much cash.

Because Sabathia is so big, his craftsmanship has probably always been overlooked. He has a tremendous change-up and, like all the greats, he owns the skill to put his pitches consistently where he wants. He can survive with a lesser fastball, but he probably cannot dominate over the long term.

A few miles per hour can take away the room for error.

"If he doesn’t hit his spots, he gets hit," Francisco Cervelli said after Sabathia's last start. "He’s just got to hit the corners and make the hitters uncomfortable."

If he doesn't, it easier for batters to square up 91 than 95. Those four miles can be difference between a foul ball and a double. That is why the velocity watch will continue on Saturday at the Stadium.

UP NOW: I have all the news from Yankee Stadium injury ward. Cervelli and Ivan Nova are the latest hurt Yankees.

ON DECK: Sabathia (3-2, 3.34) vs. J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.68). Starting for us is Wallace Matthews. Clubhouse opens at 12:20, Wally will tell you if Nova or Kevin Youkilis are headed to the DL.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Can CC lead the Yankees to a championship if he throws 91?