CC Sabathia tries to pick up his first victory in over a month on Tuesday night when the New York Yankees resume a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Sabathia is winless in six starts -- all Yankee defeats -- since his last victory on July 3. He is 0-4 with a 7.00 earned run average over the skid and had allowed 19 runs over his previous three outings before a quality start versus the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
The left-hander yielded three runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings without a walk and was in line for the victory before a rare blown save by Mariano Rivera.
That left Sabathia 9-10 with a 4.72 ERA in 24 starts this season and that includes a win over the Angels on June 16. The 33-year-old logged eight innings of two-run ball, moving to 7-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 17 career starts versus Los Angeles.
That blown save by Rivera versus Chicago was the first of three straight for the future Hall of Famer, the first time he has done that in his career.
With those struggles in mind, manager Joe Girardi used the combination of Boone Logan and David Robertson to close out last night's 2-1 series-opening victory, though it was anything but smooth.
Logan yielded a single before striking out Kole Calhoun and giving way to Robertson, who walked Mike Trout and gave up an RBI double to Josh Hamilton. Robertson then intentionally walked Erick Aybar to load the bases with one out, but settled down to strike out Mark Trumbo and Chris Nelson and record his first save of the season.
Robertson said it was weird closing the game when the crowd was cheering for Rivera.
"That was little different. It's not easy to pitch when the crowd is chanting, 'We want Mo' when you're warming up," Robertson said.
Hiroki Kuroda spun eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball for New York, which got a home run from Curtis Granderson and an RBI single by Brett Gardner to win back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game win streak from July 10-12.
Garrett Richards logged the first complete game of his career in defeat, giving up seven hits and a walk, but the lack of offense led to the Angels' sixth loss in eight games.
"There are some positives to take away and definitely one of them was the way Garrett pitched," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's important for him to keep moving forward. He's really pitched well."
Though the Angels won two of three at home versus the Yankees in June, they have lost seven of their last nine in the Bronx and are 6-18 in their last 24 games at Yankee Stadium, including playoffs.
Los Angeles gets Jason Vargas back into the rotation tonight, though he can't be too happy seeing the Yankees. He is 0-3 lifetime versus New York with a 6.55 ERA in seven meetings (6 starts).
The 30-year-old southpaw has not pitched since June 17, diagnosed with a blood clot in his left armpit a few days later and eventually undergoing surgery. Vargas did make a rehab start on Thursday with Triple-A Salt Lake and isn't concerned with his arm.
"There was nothing wrong with me, except that they just went in and tied it up and closed me off," Vargas told the Angels' website. "I got over that, if there was anything, way back when I started playing catch."
Vargas is 6-4 with a solid 3.65 ERA in 14 starts this season.