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CC Sabathia was on the disabled list to deal with a strained groin muscle for the last three weeks, but you're forgiven for wondering if he spent the time at some magical spa only known to ace pitchers with access to millions of dollars.
Sabathia showed no signs of lingering doubt about the stability of that muscle against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night as he threw six shutout innings in a 6-1 victory. He looked like he had plenty more in the tank, but Joe Girardi opted for caution and removed him from the game after Adam Lind led off the seventh with a single.
Sabathia left after throwing just 87 pitches and that kind of efficiency, 66 of those pitches were strikes, hasn't always been Sabathia's calling card this season. There have been nights where he seems to be battling himself as much, if not more, than the opposition while he's on the mound.
There were no battles of any kind on Tuesday night as Sabathia's precision left the Blue Jays with little chance of accomplishing anything other than a solid effort during their at-bats against him. You never want to see your best starting pitcher on the disabled list, but this return effort makes you wonder if it isn't a good idea to give everyone a few weeks off during the season to recharge their batteries.
Outside of Sabathia, the night was a good news/bad news affair for the Yankees. The good news was a three-run homer by Andruw Jones, who continues to mash lefty pitching almost every time he's in the lineup.
Jones' blast came one night after Raul Ibanez's grand slam as if he wanted to make sure that everyone knew that both halves of the ancient platoon in left were percolating enough to make Brett Gardner's return an afterthought. If DeWayne Wise hits for the cycle on Wednesday, we might as well just have Gardner carry Jeremy Lin's bags to Houston.
The flip side of the comfort in left field is the creeping feeling that bullpen help is needed in the Bronx. Chad Qualls allowed a run in the eighth and got into more trouble in the ninth that forced first Clay Rapada and, finally, Rafael Soriano into the game.
While we'll never complain about getting a chance to see Soriano's flamboyant untuck at the end of a successful ninth inning, that's four of five days for the closer and he shouldn't have been needed in this contest.
Joba Chamberlain is on the comeback trail, but Brian Cashman should make a move outside of that because more certainty is needed than Chamberlain can provide off of his dual injuries.
Life's pretty good when your biggest problem is an ineffective middle reliever in an otherwise deep problem. And life's very good when your ace returns from the disabled list looking like he's in his best form of the season.
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