CC’s spotty history on Opening Day

The 2010 minor league primer
Levine, Attanasio spar over baseball economics
Photo credit: Elise Amendola/AP

On March 31, 2003, a 22-year-old CC Sabathia got the ball on Opening Day for the Cleveland Indians. He fared very well in his first opener, lasting seven innings and only allowing two runs. He did surrender eight hits and walk one, but he worked out of jams in a few innings. Heading into the bottom of the eighth Sabathia was the pitcher of record, having left with a 4-2 lead. David Riske ended that, though, allowing a game-tying home run to Marty Cordova.

The next year, CC was even better. Again he lasted seven innings, but this time he allowed no runs, surrendering just two hits, though he did walk four. The biggest difference was in his strikeout numbers. He set down nine of the 25 Twins he faced. Leaving the game with a 4-0 lead, it appeared Sabathia would get his first Opening Day win. Alas, it was not to be. Jose Jimenez, Scott Stewart, and Rafael Betancourt combined to allow four runs in the eighth, placing another ND on Sabathia’s record. The Indians lost again, this time with Chad Durbin surrendering a walk-off home run to Shannon Stewart.

In 2005 Sabathia was in line to make his third Opening Day start, but he opened the season on the DL. In 2006 he again got the nod, but this time suffered an injury during the start, straining his oblique and missing a month. His performance wasn’t very good that game, as he allowed three runs in just 2.1 innings against the White Sox. Still, we can chalk that one up to his oblique acting up. It was his first bad Opening Day start, after all, and at age 25 it appeared he had many, many more of them in his future.

Opening Day 2006 didn’t go too well for Sabathia, though it didn’t go poorly. He didn’t get hurt, which was an upgrade over 2005, but he also allowed three runs over six innings of work, allowing eight hits and walking run while surrendering two home runs. The Indians, for their part, rocked Jose Contreras early on, scoring five in the first, four in the second, and three in the third, staking Sabathia to a 11-2 lead after three. It would be his first Opening Day win, though not close to his best Opening Day performance. From there, though, it has been all downhill.

In his first start following his coronation as AL Cy Young, Sabathia bombed. For the third straight season the Indians opened the season against the White Sox, and for the third straight year it was something of a slugfest. Jim Thome took CC deep in the first inning for a two-run shot, and then did the same in his next at-bat, another two-run shot in the third. By this time the Indians had scored seven runs off Mark Buehrle, though, softening the blow. They maintained that 7-4 lead until the sixth, when Sabathia walked two before allowing an RBI single to A.J. Pierzynski. Jensen Lewis came in to clean up, but he and Rafael Perez combined to blow the lead the next inning. The Indians ended up winning the game, but CC got another no-decision to go along with his poor start.

Yankees fans had high hopes for Sabathia on Opening Day 2009, but again the big man flopped. He worked out of trouble in the first, but an Adam Jones started the scoring in the third. It all came undone in the fifth, when the Orioles went double-single-single-single-groundout/run-walk-walk. That final walk came with the bases loaded and one out. Sabathia then left the game, having surrendered six runs in just 4.1 IP. The damage might have been even worse had Brett Gardner not thrown out Melvin Mora trying to score on a sac fly.

On Sunday we saw yet another poor Opening Day start from Sabathia. He didn’t look great in the early goings, but he managed to limit the Red Sox damage to two runs through five innings. In the sixth, however, he was clearly gassed, and the Sox took advantage. He left the game having recorded one out in the inning and with the tying run on base. David Robertson promptly surrendered it, leaving Sabathia with an assured no-decision.

As he’s shown in years past, Sabathia is able to shake off poor season openers to post excellent seasons. Last year is a prime example. It took him almost all of April to get into his groove, but once he did we all forgot about his April woes. This isn’t to say that CC shouldn’t start Opening Day. I’m sure he’d have similar struggles in his first start no matter what turn in the rotation he took. It’s to say, though, that for the next year or five we shouldn’t have high expectations of Sabathia on Opening Day. We should, however, maintain our expectations for the season. The man is simply a beast.

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The 2010 minor league primer
Levine, Attanasio spar over baseball economics
  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    I loved Opening Day last year, when my boss brought me the NY Post headline that read “Birdbathia!”

    Again, my new retort to drawing any conclusions about any Opening Day occurrence: Tuffy Rhodes

    • A.D.

      Yeah, in the Chris Shelton mold

    • bexarama

      “Birdbathia!” was truly the greatest possible headline for last year’s Opening Day.

  • Dela G

    translation?

    call the fuck down people

    • Spaceman.Spiff

      Calm as well.

      • Stormrider6

        I’m calmer than you are, Dude.

        • kunaldo

          The Dude abides

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    FACT: Everytime CC pitches an opening day for the Yankees, they win the World Series.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      FACT: Everytime CC pitches Opening Day for a team other than the Yankees, the Yankee do not win the World Series.

    • http://stateofmlb.blogspot.com/ Hangoverologist

      We’ll set a new record for consecutive WS wins! Jeter will retire with either 10 or 11 rings due to this.

    • Tampa Yankee

      The best part, I saw it with my own eyes last year! No advanced statistic showed me! HAHA NERDS! Go back to your mom’s basement!11!!!1!eleventy!

      • bexarama

        I will always confuse your screen name with that absurdly negative “Brazilian Yankee” person from last year’s playoffs

        • Tampa Yankee

          Yeah, he’s no fun, but I’m all sorts of fun! There was a tampayankee who was just like Brazilian Yankee and had to make sure my rep was protected when he started spitting all sorts of nonsense.

          Also, I know the name is weak (I’m a form NYer who lives in Tampa now… I tried real hard on that one) but it works.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            You could name yourself “Bailbondsman to the Hillsborough High Stars”.

            Dwight and Elijah would certainly enjoy it.

            • Tampa Yankee

              I was thinking of “Once served Bronson Sardinha at a smoothie/wrap place while in college and he was a complete douche” but that was too long. Oh, an Jaret Wright too.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                I was thinking of “Once served Bronson Sardinha at a smoothie/wrap place while in college and he was a complete douche” but that was too long.

                I think that’s actually shorter than Bronson’s middle name, FWIW.

                • Tampa Yankee

                  Look at that, I learned something new today! TSJC FTW!

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  It’s “Kiheimahanaomauiakeo”. Pretty close.

                • Andy in Sunny Daytona

                  Coincidently, “Kiheimahanaomauiakeo” means “demanding customer” in Hawaiin.

                • Tampa Yankee

                  Actually, IIRC, he always got a Buffalo Chicken wrap and wanted extra Buffalo sauce on the side and if you forgot it, he got kinda pissy.

              • pat

                Oddly enough, you could probably go back to that same wrap place and have Bronson Sardinha serve you some food.

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

                  ::golf clap::

              • Thomas

                Did he yell, “I’m Bronson Fucking Kiheimahanaomauiakeo Sardinha!”

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?!??!??!

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  I’M RICK JAMES, BITCH!

                  /Chappelled’d

              • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                Oh, and Jaret Wright, too.

                Come now, you can tell us the truth. It wasn’t just one wrap for ol’ Jaret, now was it?

                Three? Four? Was it five?

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

                  Oh, and Jaret Wright, too.

                  And how do you know it was Jaret Wright and not Joba Chamberlin?

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  They both have chubby faces!

                  /earlier-thread’d

  • Rose

    On Sunday we saw yet another poor Opening Day start from Sabathia. He didn’t look great in the early goings, but he managed to limit the Red Sox damage to two runs through five innings.

    I was forced to watch the game on NESN (per usual) and anybody could tell that Sabathia didn’t really have it…but he still only gave up one hit, so the NESN announcers were praising him (because by this time Beckett looked far far worse). Then the inevitable happened…Sabathia should have most certainly been removed before the Youkalis at-bat but wasn’t…and the rest is history. Actually, the bullpen were just as bad so removing Sabathia would have probably just placed the game tying pitches on somebody else that day.

    It was just funny listening to the NESN guys praising Sabathia so much when I knew he didn’t look all that great from where I was.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      It was just funny listening to the NESN guys praising Sabathia so much when I knew he didn’t look all that great from where I was.

      Agreed. They were talking about how “on” he was….and yet he wasn’t.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

    CC Sabathia’s career record on Opening Day: 0-12, 8.39 ERA

    CC Sabathia’s career record after Opening Day: 329-63, 2.17 ERA

    [Ed. note: those figures are rough estimates. Probably not 100% accurate. Tommie’s too lazy to look the real stats up; those are the stats his eyes/gut remembers.]

    • Tampa Yankee

      ILMMFAOSLTMCLAMF! (I laughed my mother f’n ass off so loud my coworkers looked at me funny)

      /too much’d?

    • A.D.

      Last year it was 0-1 12.46 vs 19-7 3.19

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      So what you’re saying is that CC needs to improve his tRA (alex gonzalez edition) on Opening Day?

      • bexarama

        haha I read some old thread a couple of days ago in which alex gonzalez made an appearance and it’s amazing, the way that guy could just COMPLETELY derail a conversation. Well done, Jose.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          The most ironic thing of all of Jose’s sockpuppetry is, I actually have a slightly better opinion of Scott Feldman now.

          He’s a decent pitcher.

  • Mike HC

    Yea this is to be expected. Clearly it is better this way than the other way around.

    I was at Opening day last year in Baltimore, two rows behind the Yanks dugout and CC would get it pretty bad from a couple of drunk guys in the first row whenever he came back from innings. I can only imagine what he heard in Boston this year.

    • bexarama

      SAVERNA PARK HATES YOU TEX!!!!

      (or whatever that sign said)

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        We’re gonna boooooooooooo Teixeira
        We’re gonna boo, boo, boo Teixeira

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          Thanks, ass. Now I have the song stuck in my head.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            I give because I love.

          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

            I’m pissed at TSJC because I was re-reading an old thread in which Carl Everett featured…

            …and I’ve been WALKING the Frickin’ DINOSAUR all damn day, ever since.

            Can’t stop.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

              Was (Not Was): Musical geniuses.

              • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                Don Was: a decent Rolling-Stones-producer, too.

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  And good bassist.

              • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                Here’s another one for you, Tommie:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

                Though it’s not quite as funky.

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  Oh, utterly SFW. Also SFPS.

        • bexarama

          four and a half games back and we don’t te-care-a
          we got Mark Teixeira

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        “Severna” Park.

        It’s where he’s from, if you didn’t know.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at

          /Rakim’d

          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

            It ain’t the meat, it’s the motion.

      • Mike HC

        Teix got it worse than I have ever heard from a baseball crowd. Shockingly mean. Granted I don’t go to many away games, but a Yankee Stadium crowd has never given it that bad to a player before.

        There was a true hate in the air, not just the usual boo and heckle the best player on another team usually gets. It was real hate in Baltimore.

        • bexarama

          It was borderline frightening because it was such pure bile.

  • Nick

    Did anyone notice CC changed cleats during the game. He had grey ones on to start then moved to black cleats. Maybe he didn’t have a good feel for the mound. Or maybe he just likes to look pretty.

    • Andy from Manhattan

      How bout did anyon notice Sabathia looked lik he actally aded pounds in the offseason. I wonder if he can spell GOLDITO!

      • Mike HC

        hahha. Definitely. First thing I noticed when I saw him. But again, that is also to be expected from CC, ha.

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        I dunno…but he might be able to spell “gordito”.

        • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

          This person above appears to be my Bizarro-world twin.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            Dark Helmet: Careful you idiot! I said across her nose, not up it!
            Laser Gunner: Sorry sir! I’m doing my best!
            Dark Helmet: Who made that man a gunner?
            Major Andy: I did sir. He’s my cousin.
            Dark Helmet: Who is he?
            Colonel Sandurz: He’s an Andy, sir.
            Dark Helmet: I know that! What’s his name?
            Colonel Sandurz: That is his name sir. Andy, Major Andy!
            Dark Helmet: And his cousin?
            Colonel Sandurz: He’s an Andy too sir. Gunner’s mate First Class Philip Andy!
            Dark Helmet: How many Andies do we have on this ship, anyway?
            [Entire bridge crew stands up and raises a hand]
            Entire Bridge Crew: YO!!
            Dark Helmet: I knew it. I’m surrounded by Andies!
            [Dark Helmet pulls his face shield down]
            Dark Helmet: KEEP FIRING, ANDIES!

            • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

              DAMN STRAIGHT!!

              I’m adopting that as the official slogan of the Andrew Club™!

              Now if I can just stop walking the damn dinosaur long enough to write it down…http://riveraveblues.com/2010/.....ent-826460

              • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys
              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                I’m adopting that as the official slogan of the Andrew Club™!

                I give because I love.

                Of course, I’ll expect hefty royalty fees.

                “Keep Firing, Andies™” is a registered wordmark of tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size, 2010. All rights reserved.

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  Feh.

                  You can’t wordmark it, it’s in the movie.

                  Now if we could just get HTML 5 to add in a symbol for “wordmark”…

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  I damn sure can wordmark it, and if you attempt to use it without proper compensation, you’ll be hearing from my attorneys, the good boys at Kabak, Mondesi, and Levine LLP.

                • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  And I’ll counter with MY lawyers:

                  Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe, LLP.

                  /An-old-one’d

        • Thomas

          The “goldito” must be the gold standard for “gorditos.”

          • Andyfrom Mahtan

            It absolutely is…It approximatly one level away from platinum staus

            • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

              This guy’s comments…and even his NAME..are slowly shrinking.

              Maybe he’ll be gone entirely in 2 more posts?

      • Basebalnation

        I wonder if anyone noticed that you can’t spell. He actually did but ehh. I’m out to watch Eastbound & Down reruns aka the funniest fucking show on earth.

        • Mike HC

          Love that show. Pretty damn funny. And crazy.

          • Basebalnation

            It is hands down the greatest show period. Danny Mcbride is hilarious as Kenny Powers.

    • Mike HC

      Yea, they commented on this. Supposedly the grey ones were uncomfortable.

  • 20/20 Vision

    CC @ 300lbs >>>> CC @ 330lbs.
    Too many footlongs perhaps?

    • bexarama
      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        Johan: It’s playing you-know-who big!
        ZZ: No, it’s playing you-know-who big!

        [Ed. note: Nobody knows who the “you know who” is for the Mets. Nobody.]

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Larger Sample Size

          I do ;)

          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

            Oh Mo. Here we go again with the fake posters…guys, April Fool’s is over.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            Son of a bitch…

            Nobody likes a copycat. Get your own name.

            • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

              Should I ask that Real Oofy guy to get out the shotgun again?

            • 20/20 Vision

              Not cool with the copying of the name. Not cool at all.

  • smurfy

    I was thinking time to pull him with one out in the fifth. The bullpen may have performed better starting the sixth.

    I would tend to pull him early in these first starts, given the history.

    • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      Yeah…

      No.

      It’s more important to start the process of building up his innings and stamina than it is to worry about losing the first game of the season.

      Later in the year, you might worry more about that…but C.C. will be close to unbeatable by then, because we got him built up early by accepting a short-term loss for the long-term good.