NEW YORK -- As CC Sabathia walked off the mound to an ovation after working his half of the seventh inning on Tuesday, the Yankees' ace was sure his workload was complete for the evening.
Sabathia was at 104 pitches and had retired the final 17 Twins batters he faced, allowing just two hits, but the calendar was not in his favor to go back out there for the eighth inning.
"I know [manager] Joe [Girardi] and how he is," Sabathia said. "It's early in the season, and he's trying to protect us. I kind of had a feeling that was my last inning."
The Yankees' manager backed up that thought process when Sabathia got to the dugout, though it didn't work out, as the Bombers allowed four runs in the eighth and went on to lose, 5-4, in 10 innings.
"At this point in the season, he's over 100 pitches," Girardi said. "You have to be smart about him. We have a long ways to go -- this isn't August or September, this is early April. It's very cold, and you have to be smart about it."
Sabathia said he was pleased with his own part of the outing, in which he walked one and struck out six. The Twins didn't do any damage against Sabathia after Jason Kubel and Danny Valencia stroked one-out hits in the second inning.
"I just felt pretty good," Sabathia said. "I was trying to pound the strike zone and use both sides of the plate, and get ahead.
"I threw the ball a lot better today. My offspeed pitches were pretty good. I'm still struggling with my changeup a little bit, so we'll work on that in the bullpen."
Sabathia said his arm felt fine after seven innings, but he didn't toy with the idea of putting up a fight and campaigning for the eighth inning.
"What's the point of arguing?" Sabathia said. "When he makes the decision, that's what it is. That's what I like about Joe."