Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ace in a Hole

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ace in a Hole

Article excerpt

BALTIMORE - Start with the not-so-good stats.

CC Sabathia has pitched to a collective 5.84 ERA in his last two postseasons, with a hefty 6.23 ERA in the Yankees' quick October exit against Detroit in last fall's division series.

And he's 0-2 in three starts against the Orioles this season with a 6.38 ERA. Baltimore tagged him for three homers in his last start at Camden Yards, during a tooth-and-nail September pennant race.

The lefty ace can't dispute those numbers.

But he won't be lugging any lousy memories - such as the 2011 playoffs -- into tonight's best-of-five division series opener versus the Orioles.

"I've got more things to worry about than how I pitched against Detroit last year," Sabathia said. "I'll take the last [few] starts that I've had and try to build off that."

After a shaky stretch, Sabathia went 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA (20 strikeouts, four walks) over his last three starts, going eight innings apiece against Oakland, Minnesota and Boston.

Manager Joe Girardi similarly dismissed Sabathia's 2011 postseason as having any relevance now.

"I don't think you can make too much of last year just because of the way the schedule was," Girardi said of Sabathia's rained out start in Game 1, his return on short rest in Game 3 and his relief appearance in Game 5.

And this month, he's got Andy Pettitte riding shotgun following a one-year retirement.

Pettitte will start Monday's Game 2 and Hiroki Kuroda will start Wednesday's Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, with Phil Hughes scheduled for Game 4, if necessary, Girardi said.

"I'm just excited to get back out there," said Pettitte, 40, who missed nearly three months with a fractured left ankle and made three September starts.

"I always felt that I was coming back. But I knew it was going to be a rush job," Pettitte said. "You know the responsibility you have."

Kuroda, 37, felt that same weight during his 2008 and 2009 playoff runs with the Dodgers. …

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