Baltimore Orioles: A Deserved Hat Tip To CC Sabathia
A thorn in the side of the Baltimore Orioles for many, many years, CC Sabathia’s career is now complete. We take a look back at how he performed against the O’s during his 19 seasons.
While watching the Houston Astros dismantle the New York Yankees gave many Baltimore Orioles fans great joy, there was a brief moment where I found myself pulling for the Pinstripes. It wasn’t to see Zack Britton get an opportunity to win a World Series ring, but it was in admiration of one of the top starting pitchers to toe the rubber, CC Sabathia.
After 19 seasons with the Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, and Cleveland Indians, the six-time All-Star and 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner will hang up his cleats and call it a career, likely destined to become a Hall of Fame career.
You never want to see such a dominant player go out the way he did, but Sabathia pitched until his body literally could not throw another pitch. Very rarely do we see athletes end their careers with a storybook ending, but the image of Sabathia walking off the field with trainers in the 2019 ALCS won’t be the image fans are left with when they look back at Sabathia’s career.
It all started with his rookie season as a 20-year-old in Cleveland. Finishing second in 2001 Rookie of the Year Voting (Ichiro took home the honor), Sabathia went 17-5 with a 4.39 ERA, striking out 171 in 180 innings of work.
In all, Sabathia made 560 starts, logged 3,577.1 innings, including a career-high 253 in 2008, and finished with a 251-161 record, a 3.74 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 12 shutouts, and 3,093 total strikeouts.
There were very few teams that gave CC Sabathia difficulties during his career. Oddly enough, it was the Yankees who gave him the most fits during his time in Cleveland (1-8, 6.16 ERA). One team he rarely had troubles against was the Baltimore Orioles.
Sabathia made 46 starts vs the O’s, the second-most starts he made against any one team in the majors (53 vs Tampa Bay). Compiling a 21-11 record with a 3.73 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, Sabathia fanned 234 Oriole hitters across 301 innings and 19 seasons.
Entering the league in 2001, Sabathia didn’t drop a game to the Orioles until 2009, but dominated the Orioles in ’09 and 2010, his first two seasons with the Yankees. Leading the league in wins both years, Sabathia went 9-2 in 11 starts vs the O’s, including one shutout. He refused to give up a single home run in more than 34 innings against Baltimore back in 2009.
Respect where respect is due. Sabathia was just one pitcher Oriole hitters could not figure out through the years.
We can’t forget to mention his dominant starts in the 2012 American League Divisional Series where Sabathia pitched two of the best postseason outings of his career (made 26 total postseason appearances). I don’t blame you if you rather not read ahead any further. The memories are a bit painful, still to this day.
Outside of Nate McLouth and Robert Andino, the Orioles offense largely fell flat in a 3-2 series loss to the Yankees who rode CC Sabathia’s two elite outings to an ALCS appearance, an appearance in which the Yankees dropped four-straight to the Detroit Tigers.
Sabathia’s game one performance against the Orioles was a near-complete game outing that ended in a 7-2 Yankees win. CC allowed two runs on eight hits across 8.2 innings, striking out seven and walking one. A massive 9th inning collapse by Jim Johnson of the Orioles gave Sabathia the win and New York a 1-0 series advantage.
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Entering a decisive game five at Yankee Stadium, the Brox Bombers once again turned to CC to give them an ALDS title. It turned out to be Sabathia’s best playoff outing, by Baseball Reference’s Game Score.
Lew Ford‘s RBI single, scoring Matt Wieters, was the only run scored upon CC that night as the lefty crafted his way through nine innings of four-hit ball. He walked two, struck out nine, and earned a game score of 82 in his 121-pitch effort.
Sabathia would go on to make eight more post-season appearances, earning just one more win in a 2017 ALCS game against Houston. He tossed six shutout innings as the Astros would go on to take the series and eventually the World Series.
While we may not have enjoyed watching CC Sabathia take on the Orioles for the last 19 years, we tip our hat to one of the better starting pitchers of the 2000s and wish him success in his post-playing days. I’m sure we have not seen the last of CC in baseball. He may have played for the Evil Empire, but respect where respect is due.