CC needs to get cooking at home

CC needs to get cooking at home

NEW YORK -- A group of reporters approached CC Sabathia before the Yankees' game against the Twins on Monday to ask him how he felt about pitching at home. After all, he has not won a game at Yankee Stadium more than six weeks into the season.

Considering he signed a $161 million contract over the winter, the questions seemed warranted. Sabathia was brought to New York to anchor a starting rotation that in recent years has been inconsistent, but he has looked like anything but an ace in front of the home fans thus far. By this point the series of coincidences was coming dangerously close to being a trend.

As he fielded the questions, Sabathia looked puzzled. He hadn't thought about it before. Not until he was asked. Then he paused for a moment and conceded that even though he hadn't thought about it, he was looking forward to that moment of walking into the Yankee Stadium clubhouse a winner.

"It'd be nice to get that first one at home," Sabathia said.

He'll get that chance on Tuesday, when the Yankees begin a three-game series against the division-rival Orioles. Sabathia, who is coming off consecutive victories, will make his fourth start at the Stadium, where he has gone 0-1 with a 5.21 ERA. He is 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA on the road.

Pitching against Baltimore may be exactly what Sabathia needs. He is 6-1 with a 3.01 ERA in 11 career starts against the Orioles and has only allowed more than three earned runs twice. On May 8 he had his best outing as a Yankee, dominating in a complete-game shutout on just four hits, striking out eight. He followed that with another victory, surrendering two runs on five hits on the road against the Blue Jays on May 14.

That's the Sabathia the Yankees hope will be in New York on Tuesday -- the same one who was so sharp in Baltimore and Toronto. But despite what the numbers say, Sabathia is not convinced that his splits are any cause for concern.

"It doesn't matter if we play on the moon, as long as we win the ballgame," he said.

Nevertheless, it is clear that Sabathia has struggled at home this season. In his last three starts at Yankee Stadium, he has allowed 14 earned runs in 21 1/3 innings. He took the loss in his last home appearance, giving up five runs (four earned) in 6 2/3 frames to the Angels.

The way things are going for the Yankees now, though, it would seem that his time may finally be coming. New York is arguably the hottest team in baseball, going into this series with the Orioles on a six-game winning streak, having just completed a four-game sweep of Minnesota.

And if the Yankees can get the type of outing from their ace that they've come to expect, win No. 7 may not be too far away.

"[He's had] a little bit [more] command, a little sharper slider, a little bit more depth to his slider at times," manager Joe Girardi said. "CC is the kind of guy that's going to locate a lot. That's what he did his last two starts. You kind of hope it just continues."

Pitching matchup
NYY: LHP CC Sabathia (3-3, 3.70 ERA)
At Rogers Centre on Thursday, Sabathia won his first game against the Blue Jays this year. He pitched eight innings, giving up two runs on five hits. He tied a season high, with five walks, and recorded five strikeouts. He threw 111 pitches, 65 for strikes. In his last start against the Orioles, which came on May 8 in Baltimore, he pitched a complete-game shutout and struck out eight batters.

BAL: RHP Brad Bergesen (1-1, 5.27 ERA)
Bergesen, who took a loss against Tampa Bay in his last outing, on Wednesday, will be looking to get back in the win column. He allowed nine hits and four earned runs against the Rays over 5 2/3 innings. Opponents have hit .348 off him in his five starts, but he has allowed just four homers and eight walks to limit the damage.

Tidbits
Right-hander Steven Jackson was claimed off waivers by the Pirates on Monday. He had a 1.88 ERA in 14 1/3 innings at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. ... With his home run on Monday, Alex Rodriguez is now 10th all-time on the franchise list (211). ... The Yankees had not swept a series of four or more games since Aug. 18-21, 2006, when they won five straight at Boston. ... Derek Jeter will host a group workout for 15 high school students on Tuesday to celebrate the opening of 24 Hour Fitness-Derek Jeter at East 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Yankees (Phil Hughes, 1-2, 7.56) vs. Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 3-3, 5.21), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Yankees (Joba Chamberlain, 2-1, 3.76) vs. Orioles (Adam Eaton, 2-4, 7.93), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (A.J. Burnett, 2-1, 5.02) vs. Phillies (Brett Myers, 3-2, 4.50), 7:05 p.m. ET

Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.