BALTIMORE -- CC Sabathia was asked to evaluate his season, and his nostrils flared before he wisely bit his tongue.
"I almost cussed right there," Sabathia said, taking a long pause. "Not very good. Not very good."
Sabathia took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Friday before coughing up a three-run lead en route to New York's 4-3 loss to Baltimore, and he is always the first to shoulder the blame when things go awry.
But catcher Chris Stewart has been encouraged by Sabathia's improving velocity, which was a popular talking point early in the season but has become less so as the weather has warmed.
Sabathia has picked up about a mile per hour on his fastball each month, from an average of 90.67 mph in April to 92.32 mph in June, according to Brooks Baseball. His average fastball velocity on Friday was 93.05 mph, his best of the season.
"His fastball had a little more life on it," Stewart said. "Maybe it was the weather. It's warming up, and his body is feeling better out there. He was definitely really good out there."
That may calm the velocity concerns, but Sabathia will now enter July with an 8-6 record and 4.15 ERA in 17 starts, and having allowed a team-leading 17 home runs.
Sabathia said that he does not feel far off, which makes any issues all the more frustrating. But Stewart, informed of Sabathia's evaluation of his season, doesn't quite agree.
"He's being a little bit hard [on himself], but obviously he's not CC-like this year," he said. "Like [Friday] -- it's an ERA-inflator, but there's nothing much you can do. He's had a couple of those games this year.
"He's un-CC-like maybe numbers-wise, but as far as intensity and the way he goes about it, he's the same guy. It's just tough that his numbers aren't with him this year."