Yankees turn to Sabathia with AL East title still in play
NEW YORK (AP) The Yankees made a late switch on Saturday, tabbing veteran left-hander CC Sabathia to start their game against the Blue Jays in place of fellow lefty Jaime Garcia.
New York entered the day two games behind Boston in the AL East with two to play. If the Yankees win both and the Red Sox lose twice to Houston, the division rivals would meet in a tiebreaker game Monday at Yankee Stadium.
If Boston clinches before then, New York would host Minnesota in the AL wild-card game on Tuesday night.
Pitching on regular four days’ rest, Sabathia was told he would make the start if the team still had a shot at the division crown. That decision was sealed when the Astros won 3-2 Friday night at Fenway Park.
”We had prepared CC and we told him, basically, (if) Boston loses you’re going to pitch today,” manager Joe Girardi said. ”It’s his normal day and he’s been prepared for that. So he threw his bullpen on a normal day and you just never know what’s going to happen so here we go.”
If he did not pitch on Saturday, Sabathia would have been available out of the bullpen Tuesday, according to Girardi.
Sabathia is 13-5 with a 3.84 ERA in 26 starts this season, his ninth with the Yankees and 17th overall. The 37-year-old is in the last year of his contract.
Garcia, acquired on July 30 in a trade with Minnesota, is 0-3 with a 4.82 ERA in eight starts with New York. Unlike Sabathia, Garcia was not made aware of the swap until Saturday morning.
”I wanted him to prepare like he was going to start and not to have the waffling in his head,” Girardi said.
Garcia may be used out of the bullpen this weekend so he’ll be ready to fill that role in a potential elimination game Tuesday. The 31-year-old has made only 11 relief appearances in his career, including two with St. Louis in 2016.
”With CC pitching today and if we play on Tuesday, then Jaime would probably be a left-hander out of the bullpen that replaced CC so you could use him short, you could use him long,” Girardi said. ”More apt to use him long if it got in an extra inning game but today if there’s an opportunity we will use him so he’s prepared, has done it, knows how to warm up and all that.”
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