Yankees able to lighten CC's workload

Yankees able to lighten CC's workload

SEATTLE -- CC Sabathia could tell you plenty about the difference a season can make. In 12 months, he has gone from a hired gun on a scraping small-market team to the ace of the team with baseball's highest payroll.

And while Sabathia never complained about making starts on three days' rest for that Brewers team fighting for its life, there are certain luxuries that go along with the healthy cushion that the Yankees can be enjoying.

Life is good these days for Sabathia, who leads the American League in victories and trails only the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright (18) for the Major League lead. Milwaukee's October dream fizzled out early, but by giving Sabathia extra rest, the Yankees are thinking about bigger promises ahead.

"I think it's important that we keep him strong throughout the season," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We know what we want to accomplish, and we want him strong the whole year, not just in April and May. I think the extra rest is good. I think it will help him along the way."

Sabathia got an extra breather this turn around the rotation after making his last start on Sept. 13 against the Orioles, a game in which he didn't have his best stuff but did just enough to keep the Yankees in the game.

The final score, a 13-3 blowout, didn't encapsulate Sabathia's outing -- he left after seven innings holding just a 4-3 lead, then watched with satisfaction from the dugout as the Yankees pounded Baltimore's bullpen for an eight-run eighth inning.

"It makes it a lot easier when your stuff is not as sharp to know that you've got this lineup in your back pocket," Sabathia said. "If you go out and just put up zeroes, these guys will score runs."

Sabathia is undefeated in his last nine starts, including five on the road, since Aug. 2, going 7-0 with a 2.48 ERA over that stretch. And while the Yankees don't need to sound the alarms and push Sabathia into extra duty, Girardi said he is confident his lefty ace is just waiting for that chance to step up in an even bigger spot.

"I think he likes that, I do," Girardi said. "I think CC would rather probably pitch every fifth day and not have the extra day, but he understands what we're doing."

Pitching matchup
NYY: LHP CC Sabathia (17-7, 3.42 ERA)
Sabathia looks to keep the good times rolling, as the Yankees have won each of his past nine starts. The left-hander is 7-0 with a 2.48 ERA over that span, limiting opponents to a .216 batting average. Sabathia last logged win No. 17 against the Orioles on Sept. 13, hurling seven innings of three-run, five-hit ball. Sabathia faced the Mariners on Aug. 13 in Seattle, throwing eight innings of one-run, three-hit ball and striking out 10.

SEA: RHP Doug Fister (2-2, 3.53 ERA)
Fister lacked location on too many of his pitches in his start against the Rangers and was tagged for 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. It was his shortest outing since being inserted into the rotation in mid-August. He needs to command the lower part of the strike zone, which he did so well in his first six starts. The depth of his pitches determines the amount of movement they have. This will be his second career appearance against the Yankees. He held them to eight hits and three runs over seven innings in his second big league start, notching his first win.

Tidbits
Mariano Rivera recorded his 1,000th career strikeout in the ninth inning on Friday, fanning Mike Carp for the second out. ... Hideki Matsui has a seven-game hitting streak (.429, 12-for-28) and has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games. ... Nick Swisher has a five-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 11 of 13. In September, Swisher is batting .311 (19-for-61) with five doubles, five homers and 9 RBIs.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
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On radio
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Up next
• Sunday: Yankees (Joba Chamberlain, 8-5, 4.39) at Mariners (Ian Snell, 6-10, 5.17), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Monday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 13-6, 4.14) at Angels (Joe Saunders, 13-7, 4.75), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Yankees (Sergio Mitre, 3-3, 7.63) at Angels (Ervin Santana, 7-8, 5.43), 10:05 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.