Blue Jays-Yankees Preview
Sabathia hasn't been caught by anyone this year besides Francisco Cervelli, whose long-term injury is the latest blow for the Yankees heading into this home matchup against surging Edwin Encarnacion and the Toronto Blue Jays.
New York (13-9) has taken the first two of this four-game set, but the injury-plagued club will now have to carry on without its starting catcher. Cervelli will miss a minimum of six weeks after breaking his right hand in Friday's 6-4 victory.
"It's disappointing, and I know it's really disappointing for him because of all that he's been through to get to this point,'' manager Joe Girardi said.
Starter Ivan Nova also left with pain in his right elbow. He and Cervelli could join a long list of Yankees on the disabled list that may soon also include Kevin Youkilis, who was not available for the sixth straight game because of lower back tightness.
Chris Stewart replaced Cervelli on Friday. The Yankees will bring up catching prospect Austin Romine from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
Sabathia (3-2, 3.34 ERA) will work with one of them as he tries to improve to 9-1 over an 11-start span against Toronto (9-15). He is 6-1 with a 2.43 ERA in eight starts against the Blue Jays since joining the Yankees.
The left-hander had a three-game win streak snapped Monday when he gave up season highs of three homers and five runs over seven innings in a 5-1 defeat at Tampa Bay.
Encarnacion will try to homer for a fifth straight game for the first time. He's 8 for 32 with no homers and seven strikeouts against Sabathia.
The slugger has eight RBIs in his last four games, with three homers and four RBIs in this series in which the teams have combined to go deep nine times.
Toronto's Jose Bautista, meanwhile, is 1 for 19 with eight strikeouts against Sabathia. The struggling Bautista hit his sixth homer Friday and is batting .185.
The Blue Jays have dropped four of five, with every defeat by one or two runs.
"Basically what's happening is we're playing good enough to lose, we're not playing good enough to win,'' manager John Gibbons said.
The only current Blue Jays batter to homer off Sabathia is former Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera.
Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie is 8 for 20 against New York this year and 0 for 19 against other teams. He's 1 for 7 against Sabathia.
The Yankees have won three straight when opponents start left-handers after victories in this series with Mark Buehrle and fill-in starter Aaron Laffey going for the Blue Jays ahead of fellow southpaw J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.68) on Saturday.
Happ went 2-0 despite a 6.75 ERA in two 2012 starts against New York, although he limited Robinson Cano to a homer in six at-bats.
Cano is batting .474 during a nine-game hitting streak against Toronto, which issued a season-high 10 walks Friday.