Girardi: Sticking with CC in 7th was right call

Girardi: Sticking with CC in 7th was right call

NEW YORK -- Sticking with CC Sabathia against the top of the Orioles' order in the seventh inning was an easy gamble for Joe Girardi, who decided to trust the big left-hander with the game on the line. Even though it didn't work out, the Yankees manager doesn't believe it was the wrong call.

Pitching on his 36th birthday, Sabathia's 97th and final pitch was served into right field by Jonathan Schoop, landing safely for a two-run double. Baltimore held on for a 4-1 victory over the Yankees on Thursday afternoon, snapping New York's four-game winning streak.

"This is a guy that's been though it and has done a lot of great things," Girardi said. "With Schoop, he's done a good job on Jonathan. Everything tells you to leave him in, in that sense."

Sabathia is winless in his last six starts, but he'd limited Schoop to an infield single in three at-bats on Wednesday. In the seventh, Sabathia permitted a pair of one-out singles to the bottom of the order in Caleb Joseph and Julio Borbon.

That sparked activity in the bullpen, with right-handers Chad Green and Anthony Swarzak getting loose, but Girardi stayed with Sabathia. Leadoff hitter Nolan Reimold struck out looking at a pitch near the bottom of the strike zone, but Schoop pounced on a changeup and delivered it out of Carlos Beltran's reach.

"That's part of the game. It is what it is," Sabathia said. "I need to make a better pitch right there with Schoop and keep the game at 2-1. … I made the pitch to Reimold and got two outs. Just trying to get Schoop to hit the ball at somebody or make weak contact."

If Dellin Betances had been available, Girardi said that his call might have been different, but Betances had pitched in back-to-back games against Baltimore before warming up during Wednesday's 5-0 victory.

"I liked the way CC was still throwing the ball," Girardi said. "He got Reimold out. You look at Jonathan Schoop, left-handers have gotten him out a lot more than right-handers this year, and in his career. I thought CC had done a good job."

Sabathia didn't get much help from his defense in a two-run first inning, but he settled in to retire 15 of 17 O's from the second through the sixth. Girardi said that he thought Sabathia located well with his fastball, cutter and changeup in a "gritty performance."

"Just trying to get ahead," Sabathia said. "I got some swings early that kind of kept my pitch count down in that first inning. I just kind of tried to be aggressive in the strike zone and was able to pitch deeper in the game."

After Schoop's double, Girardi called on Green, ending speculation that the rookie might be utilized for a spot start on Friday against the Giants. That start will go to Masahiro Tanaka on regular rest as he faces ace Madison Bumgarner.

"Every game right now is crucial," Sabathia said. "It would have been great to get the sweep, but to win three out of four is still big. Hopefully we'll carry that momentum into the weekend."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.