Sabathia buckles down after first inning

May, 20, 2013
5/20/13
1:00
PM ET

AP Photo/Carlos OsorioWhy hasn't a significant decrease in fastball velocity hurt CC Sabathia in 2013?
With 10 wins in 15 starts, CC Sabathia has the second-most victories at Camden Yards among visiting pitchers -- only teammate Andy Pettitte (16-4) has more.

The Baltimore Orioles won’t dodge Pettitte -- who is on the disabled list -- when they start a three-game series with the New York Yankees, but on Monday (7 ET on ESPN and WatchESPN) the O’s will face Sabathia.

In 26 career starts against the Orioles, Sabathia is 17-4 with a 3.03 ERA; however, last season he was 0-2 with a 6.38 ERA in three starts at Camden Yards.

Sabathia has experienced a massive drop in fastball velocity (93.7 mph in 2011, 92.2 in 2012, 89.8 this season), but his slider has been as good as ever. Opponents this season are hitting .111 (7-63, two walks, 31 strikeouts) in at-bats ending with a slider.

One key for the Orioles will be whether they can get to Sabathia after the first inning. In nine starts, Sabathia has allowed eight earned runs (8.00 ERA) in the first inning. After the first, Sabathia’s ERA drops to 2.32.

Another reason Baltimore needs to score early? The Yankees are 18-0 when scoring first -- the only team this season that has yet to lose when scoring first. In the modern era, only the 1990 Reds (20-0) and 1902 Pirates (19-0) started a season with more consecutive wins in games in which they scored the first run than this year's Yankees, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Also according to Elias, the Yankees have lost just twice in 2013 when leading at any point in the game.

The Orioles are 0-5 on an eight-game homestand, and what went right in 2012 has not carried over in the first two months of 2013.

• In 2012, Baltimore was 29-9 in one-run games. This season, they are 6-5.

• Last season, the O’s were 75-1 when leading after eight innings. This season, they’ve already lost three such games (18-3).

If the Orioles can hit Sabathia like they did a year ago, it could mean not having to face Mariano Rivera, whose 74 saves against the Orioles are the most against one team in major-league history.

Rivera has converted all 16 save chances to start the season. He’s had only one longer streak of consecutive converted saves to start a season: in 2008, Rivera converted each of his first 28 save opportunities.

Also, Rivera’s next trip to the mound will tie him with Hoyt Wilhelm (1,070) for fifth-most appearances by a pitcher in major-league history.

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