NEW YORK -- When CC Sabathia left the mound in the fourth inning Sunday, already trailing the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1, a chorus of boos filled the air. In a season of bad starts, this was his worst one -- a 3 2/3-inning, five-run, 10-hit, no-chance disaster -- and Sabathia understood the fans' reaction.
"I would've booed myself, too," Sabathia said after dropping to 3-4 with a 5.75 ERA. "I'm just as tough on myself, too, as any other fan. I wouldn't want to come to the ballpark and watch that."
The remastering of Carsten Charles Sabathia's career still needs work. Despite Sabathia, Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild all saying they are still confident, there is not much tangible proof that Sabathia's forced transformation as another Andy Pettitte has made much progress.
On Sunday, Rothschild said Sabathia was out-of-sync in warmups. It didn't got better from the first pitch on. Leadoff man Logan Forsythe smashed a double on the fifth pitch of the game. On his last pitch, Wil Myers nailed a double in the fourth. In between, Myers had an inside-the-park three-run homer that nearly was of the outside-the-park variety.
It ended in Sabathia's shortest outing since October of 2009.
Sabathia is trying. Even the fans that are booing him and killing him on Twitter should at least give him that.
He has bought in to the fact that his declining velocity forces him to commit to a pregame plan for each hitter -- and stick to it. In other starts, he has struggled for one inning or so. This one, everything went wrong. He doesn't look better than last year. If anything, he looks worse.
"I think last year, I got down on myself and made myself miserable, and I just continued to slide," said Sabathia. "This year, I'm going to stay positive and do a little better in my preparation before the game, scouting report and video. I know I can get these guys out and I've done it."
It has not happened in the Bronx. At home, Sabathia is 0-3 with 7.47 ERA. His next start will be in Milwaukee Saturday.
"I thought that ball was getting through," Sabathia said. "I didn't know where Tex was playing. In my line of sight, it looked like it was just going to right field. No excuse. I just wasn't over there to cover the base."
In fairness, most of the time the Rays connected, they were clear hits. It is a disturbing trend for the Yankees and for a starter with three years and $73 million remaining on his deal.
Sabathia and the Yankees have to say they believe he will rebound, even if there is no real evidence yet he can or will.
Road trippin': Sabathia's struggles are magnified by the fact the Yankees have three other unsure spots in the rotation. Just look at the pitching matchups against the Angels in Anaheim Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Which one of those matchups do the Yankees have the edge in? None. Even against Santiago -- who has been awful so far -- it is a push. As for Phelps, he last faced live pitching 11 days ago. As Girardi is prone to say, "It's not what you want."
Alfredo Aceves pitched well in relief on Sunday so Phelps and Nuno have some pressure if they want to keep their spots.
"I think overall we have to start getting some length out of our starters and get some games on a roll or it is going to be difficult on our bullpen to try to amass the amount of innings that they are going to have to take on," Girardi said.
Masahiro Tanaka doesn't pitch again until next Friday in Milwaukee.