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Wednesday, August 7, 2013
First Pitch: When will CC improve?

By Doug Padilla | ESPNChicago.com

CC Sabathia
CC Sabathia has long been a menace at U.S. Cellular.
CHICAGO -- It’s been a season of failed expectations for CC Sabathia so the left-hander will take inspiration wherever he can get it.

Winless in over a month, Sabathia will enter his start Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox buoyed by the fact he has dominated his entire career at U.S. Cellular Field.

Is this where things turn around?

“Yeah I hope so,” Sabathia said Tuesday. “You know, I've been working hard, threw a bullpen session and felt pretty good. So I look forward to getting out there [Wednesday] and trying to help.”

On July 3, Sabathia beat the Minnesota Twins with a solid seven innings and since then he has had nothing to show for his next five outings, four of which he was tagged with the loss.

His July 9 complete game against the Kansas City Royals was solid, but the Yankees still lost 3-1. It really started to go downhill three starts ago in an outing against the Boston Red Sox. Over those past three starts, Sabathia has 10.91 ERA and has given up 29 hits and eight walks in 15 2/3 innings.

Sabathia continues to work on his arm angle to eliminate his woes and improve on a disappointing 9-10 mark with a 4.78 ERA.

“We worked in the bullpen and I felt really good,” he said. “I just went fastball, changeup, you know, playing catch on the side in between. I'm feeling good, getting the arm up. The angle's been good, I haven't been cutting any balls so, you know, I'm excited about [Wednesday].”

Aside from Monday’s eight-run outburst, the White Sox have struggled offensively. White Sox teams have had similar issues when Sabathia has pitched against them both with the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians.

He is 10-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 16 career starts on the South Side of Chicago. Those 10 victories are the most at U.S. Cellular Field by a visiting starting pitcher.

All the good vibes in the world, though, are useless if Sabathia can’t get his pitches to reach the way he intends them to. He admits that working on that arm angle to get on top of pitches is really what will carry the day.

“[The pitches] are just not making the actions that they're supposed to,” Sabathia said. “If I can't get my changeup to go down and away or my cutter to go down and in to righties, then I've got nothing. So I think my angle helps with that.”

Sabathia is calling the last two months “crunch time” with the Yankees needing him to become a staff ace again before it’s too late.

“That's a big roll we could use,” manager Joe Girardi said about Sabathia returning to form as soon as possible. “For him to get on a roll the last eight weeks, seven-and-half weeks, would be really important.”

UP NOW: MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner said he would have advised Alex Rodriguez to take a deal if MLB had presented the right one. Wallace Matthews wrote a tremendous column on A-Rod. There was good news on Michael Pineda, but not on David Phelps.

ON DECK: Sabathia faces lefty Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.28).

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you expect from CC tonight?