Yanks lefty tossed along with Girardi for arguing balls and strikes
By Alden Woods
NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi thought it was a strike. Catcher John Ryan Murphy thought it was a strike. CC Sabathia -- just an inning removed from reaching 2,500 career strikeouts -- clearly agreed.
"It was a strike," Sabathia said less than an hour after Sunday's 6-2 win over the Angels. "I've seen the pitch."
In the sixth inning, Sabathia threw a 1-1 slider to Kole Calhoun. It dipped as it crossed the plate, and Murphy held still after he caught it, waiting for the strike call.
It never came. Home-plate umpire Dan Bellino stayed silent, and the count went to 2-1. On the next pitch, Calhoun grounded into a double play to end the inning, but the slider no-call still irked Sabathia. As he walked off the mound, he asked Bellino where he had missed.
"All I was trying to figure out was where he was calling that pitch, if it was down or not. He'd been calling it all day," Sabathia said. "I guess he didn't want me to ask him."
Bellino said the pitch was low. Sabathia disagreed. Bellino ejected him.
"That's his opinion and he's entitled to his opinion," crew chief Tom Hallion said of Sabathia. "We don't comment on what was said. The whole thing started with arguing balls and strikes."
Sensing the situation, Girardi immediately hopped over the dugout railing and involved himself in the argument, pushing Sabathia away as he argued with Bellino.
The 5-foot-11 manager couldn't keep his 6-foot-7 pitcher out of the fray -- Sabathia simply stood behind him and screamed over his shoulder. Bellino then ejected Girardi.
"We just want consistency, that's all," Girardi said. "So to throw my pitcher out for asking where a pitch is without giving him enough, I have a problem with that."
The ejection, Sabathia's first since 2006 and Girardi's first of the year, overshadowed a resilient performance that saw the veteran left-hander reach a significant career milestone.
Back-to-back home runs from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols marred Sabathia's first inning, but it didn't deter him. He recovered to shut out the Angels over the next five innings and pick up his first home win of the season.
"It helps that they were solo shots, obviously," Sabathia said. "Not too much damage done, try to get back in the flow of the game."
Along the way, he made history, becoming the 31st Major League pitcher to reach 2,500 career strikeouts. By catching Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella looking with a changeup in the fifth inning, Sabathia -- already the Major Leagues' active strikeout leader -- became just the ninth left-hander to accomplish the feat.
Sabathia said he can't focus on milestones right now. The Yankees are in the midst of a six-game winning streak, and he's trying to keep that going. It does mean something to him, though.
"That I'm old," Sabathia said. "I've been around a long time. I always say, 'When I retire, I can look back and say that's a big deal.' But right now, I'm just in the middle of the season, and trying to help this team win some games."
Alden Woods is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.