The format for when interleague baseball is played has changed, but the Yankees are hoping CC Sabathia’s success in it will not. Sabathia remains one of baseball’s winningest interleague pitchers as he gets ready to face the visiting Diamondbacks for the first time in nearly 11 years Wednesday night.
Sabathia (2-1, 2.25 ERA) is tied for fourth all-time with 22 interleague victories, and he’s gone 10-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 15 such starts for the Yankees.
The left-hander’s only outing against the Diamondbacks (8-5) came with the Indians on June 28, 2002, when he pitched 7 2/3 innings for an 8-2 victory.
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Sabathia hasn’t faced Paul Goldschmidt or A.J. Pollock, but he’s got experience against some other Diamondbacks regulars. Former Yankees third baseman Eric Chavez is 3 for 20 against Sabathia, Cliff Pennington is 1 for 14 with six strikeouts and Martin Prado is 3 for 12.
The Yankees ace is in search of a third straight victory after allowing two runs over eight innings with nine strikeouts in Friday’s 5-2 win over the Orioles. Sabathia didn’t issue a walk after he had seven over his first two outings.
The D-backs are 2-3 this year in games started by opposing left-handers.
New York (7-5) won for the sixth time in seven games Tuesday, a 4-2 victory in the opener of this three-game set. Robinson Cano delivered the big blow with a three-run homer in the fourth inning to erase a 2-0 deficit.
Cano is 13 for 26 with four homers, seven runs scored and 11 RBIs in his last six games. The star second baseman has never faced D-backs starter Wade Miley (2-0, 2.13), who is 2-1 with a 0.83 ERA in three interleague starts heading into his first against the Yankees.
Miley has been solid in winning both 2013 outings, giving up two runs over 6 2/3 innings last Wednesday in a 10-2 rout of Pittsburgh.
“I was getting ahead of guys early,” he said. “I went to the slider a couple of times. Mainly it’s about getting ahead and controlling at-bats.”
The Diamondbacks suffered their first road loss in four games Tuesday despite two doubles from Pollock, who had numerous people in the stands supporting him who made the trip from his hometown of Hebron, Conn.
Pollock struck out leading off the ninth in his first at-bat against Mariano Rivera, who retired all three batters and has now converted 27 straight interleague save chances at home.
“He’s every bit as good as people say,” Pollock said. “But we’ll get back tomorrow and hopefully we won’t have to face him tomorrow.”
Rivera, the final major leaguer allowed to wear No. 42, found it fitting to close out the game on a night honoring Jackie Robinson.
“That’s what we try to do, not only today but every day,” Rivera said. “It’s special.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave catcher Chris Stewart his fourth start Tuesday. Francisco Cervelli, who is hitting .360 and has caught all three of Sabathia’s outings, figures to be back behind the plate Wednesday.
The Diamondbacks, however, will be without second baseman Aaron Hill, who was placed on the disabled ilst and will miss from four to six weeks because of a broken left hand. Prado started at second Tuesday.