In fact, after he gave up seven runs in seven innings to the Tampa Bay Rays on May 26, Sabathia talked about the need to pick his game up.
“I’m hurting the team,” Sabathia told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. “I’m not helping the team out. I just need to get better.”
There was talk about Sabathia's diminished velocity, with some even wondering if the 6'7" behemoth could still be regarded as an ace.
His outing on Friday against the Boston Red Sox certainly quieted those concerns—at least for now.
Sabathia pitched into the eighth inning, allowing just one run on six hits while striking out 10 in an outstanding performance. He left the game with a 4-1 lead.
Sabathia didn't walk a batter as he threw 109 pitches, with 73 of them for strikes. Sabathia doesn't possess the blazing, high-90s fastball that he featured in his early days, but he hit 94 mph several times with his four-seamer and regularly sat in the 91-to-93 mph range throughout the night.
The 10-strikeout effort was indeed a welcome sight, and it put him in elite company in franchise history:
CC Sabathia w/ his 36th career 10+K game. 17th as a Yankee. Ties Al Downing for 3rd in franchise history behind Ron Guidry & David Cone— Jeff Quagliata (@yestoresearch) June 1, 2013
It wasn't just Sabathia's fastball that did the trick on this night. As Jack Curry of the YES Network pointed out, Sabathia's out-pitch for much of the night was his devastating slider:
Sabathia's slider is as good tonight as it has been all season. Six of 10 Ks on sliders. In at bats ending in sliders, Red Sox are 1 for 10.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) June 1, 2013
He breezed through his first six innings, striking out nine while scattering four hits. In the seventh, Sabathia allowed a leadoff double to Dustin Pedroia, who was driven home by another double off the bat of Mike Napoli for Boston's first run of the game.
Sabathia escaped further damage by striking out Stephen Drew to reach double digits and inducing an inning-ending ground ball to David Ross.
For a reeling team on a five-game losing streak, Sabathia delivered exactly what was needed, both for himself and for the Yankees.
He left a pretty good impression on his Twitter fans as well:
This start is just what CC Sabathia needed. K count and confidence back up.— A.J. Martelli (@AJ_Martelli) June 1, 2013
Another fan even referenced a famous Mark Twain quote:
Rumors of CC Sabathia's demise were greatly exaggerated.— Peter (@KaneTakerfan4) June 1, 2013
Sabathia's double-digit-strikeout effort also puts him among the leaders of another prestigious group of current players:
CC Sabathia: 36th career game with 10+ K. Only active pitcher with more is Johan Santana (50-- he's currently on the DL)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 1, 2013
The rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees is always an exciting affair. But on this night, the Bronx Bombers were in search of stability and needed their ace to step up.