Commentary

Stellar CC makes Bombers better

Yankees' win streak hits 10 games, and if Sabathia has hit his stride … watch out!

Updated: June 19, 2012, 10:36 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- With their 10th straight win, the New York Yankees are not only the hottest team in baseball, not only toying with the National League East, not only setting records for beating above-.500 clubs that even the Murderer's Row never matched.

They are also getting better.

The Yankees' starting rotation of late had been spectacular entering Monday night, except for one very large exception -- Carsten Charles Sabathia.

That changed as the Yankees took apart the Atlanta Braves, 6-2, and Sabathia earned his league-high ninth win and first complete game of the season. He did it using a slider that was simply unfair.

[+] EnlargeCC Sabathia
AP Photo/Kathy WillensYankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild has witnessed some fantastic starting pitching lately -- and now ace CC Sabathia has joined the party.

"That's the best I've ever seen him throw it," said Chris Stewart, who is Sabathia's personal catcher, at least until Yankees manager Joe Girardi changes up his lineup card.

But like everyone else on the Yankees in June, Girardi can do no wrong. He put Stewart behind the plate and made Russell Martin, and his .199 average, the DH. Then everyone watched Martin, with the Yankees trailing 2-0 in the fifth, knock an RBI double.

Derek Jeter gave the Yankees the lead with a bases-loaded, two-run bouncer up the middle. Jeter added another hit with runners in scoring position and the Bombers went 3-for-7 in that category, which had been the bane of Girardi's otherwise glorious recent existence.

The Yankees have now extended their winning streak against the best of the NL East to 10 games. Never before has a Yankees club won 10 in a row against teams with above-.500 records. If they win Tuesday, it will be the first time since 1985 that they have won 11 straight.

"I don't think you are ever satisfied," Girardi said. "When you become satisfied, you go backwards."

The Yankees are only going forward. Jeter ended the seventh with a diving stop up the middle, flipping the ball from his knees for the force at second. The Yankees played nice defense behind Sabathia.

But it was Sabathia who looked dominant.

While the Yankees' rotation has led the way in this incredible run, Sabathia has failed to consistently look like an ace. In his previous start against the Braves, he allowed a season-high 10 hits. Before that, it was a season-high five runs against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Sabathia had given the Yankees a lot of length this season -- going into Monday he lasted seven or more innings in 10 of his 13 starts -- but not much dominance. But against the Braves, he had his third 10-strikeout game of the season. He limited Atlanta to seven hits and two runs after the Braves lit him up for four runs and 10 hits a little less than a week ago down south.

Sabathia had been far from terrible, but had stood out because he wasn't keeping up with the rest of the rotation.

"You don't want to be that guy," Sabathia said of not wanting to fail.

"Through his struggles, most guys would be happy with it," Girardi said.

Add Sabathia's Monday into the equation and the Yankees starters' ERA in June is a ridiculous 1.97 in 114 1/3 innings.

The Yankee are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the American League. At 41-25 (.621), they have a two-and-a-half game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the East. The Los Angeles Dodgers (42-25) are the only team with a better record in baseball -- for now.

With Sabathia on board, next up might be Robinson Cano. In the eighth, Cano hit his 10th home run in his past 28 games. In his first 38 games of the year, he had three.

So the Yankees are on a winning streak that Babe's teams or the Mick's teams or Torre's teams never had. They are crushing above-.500 clubs, day in and day out.

And they are still not satisfied.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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