MLB: Sabathia rides no-hit bid for 7 2-3 innnings
AP Baseball Writer
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — CC Sabathia kept a no-hit bid going for 7 2-3 innings Saturday, losing the closest call of his career on a sharp single by former batterymate Kelly Shoppach in the New York Yankees' 10-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
With a large contingent of Yankee fans among the Tropicana Field crowd of 29,892 chanting "Let's go, CC!" Shoppach's hit on a 1-0 pitch off the big lefty fell cleanly in front of left fielder Brett Gardner.
There was no visible reaction from the exhausted Yankees ace, who sat in the dugout for 17 minutes while New York scored four runs in the top of the eighth.
Manager Joe Girardi immediately bounced out of the dugout to remove Sabathia, who walked two and struck out five. The left-hander threw 69 of his 111 pitches for strikes and benefited from spectacular defensive plays by Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano.
David Robertson pitched the final 1 1-3 innings to complete a combined two-hitter. Ben Zobrist doubled off the reliever with two outs in the ninth.
Sabathia also took a no-hitter into the eighth inning for Cleveland on April 7, 2002, at Detroit, with Randall Simon breaking up that bid with a leadoff single. The left-hander pitched a one-hitter for Milwaukee at Pittsburgh on Aug. 31, 2008 — the only hit coming on Andy LaRoche's check-swing dribbler back to the pitcher in the fifth inning.
Cano hit a two-run homer off Wade Davis (0-1) in the fourth inning, and the Yankees scored two more in the fifth on Derek Jeter's run-scoring single and Teixeira's RBI double, which snapped an 0 for 17 skid, the longest hitless streak to begin a season in the slugger's career.
Teixeira also stretched out to make a diving catch on Jason Bartlett's low liner to keep the no-hit bid alive in the sixth. It was A-Rod's turn to shine in the seventh, scrambling to his feet after making a diving stop on B.J. Upton's hard grounder past third base and making the long throw to Teixeira at first.
Sabathia walked Evan Longoria leading off the fifth and Carl Crawford starting the seventh, both on 3-2 pitches. Longoria eventually was stranded at third base, and the Rays left another runner in scoring position when Zobrist stole second after reaching on a fielder's choice in the seventh.
Sabathia made a nice play on a comebacker from Crawford in the fourth, then slowed down Willy Aybar's high bouncer with his pitching hand in the eighth, deflecting the ball toward second baseman Cano, who easily threw the runner out.
Sabathia and Shoppach are not strangers. They played together for three years in Cleveland, and Shoppach caught all or part Sabathia's final four starts with the Indians before the big lefty was traded in July 2008.
Shoppach began the day with a career .241 batting average in six seasons. His hitting highlight came four weeks after Sabathia was traded — Shoppach tied a major league record by getting five extra-base hits in a game.
Sabathia rebounded from allowing five runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings of the Yankees' opening day loss at Boston. He was not involved in the decision, but has a history of struggling in April.
He's just 13-12 in the opening month of the season during his career, including 3-6 over March and April of the past three seasons.
Davis was one of three rookies, along with Jeff Niemann and David Price, who finished last season in Tampa Bay's rotation.
The 24-year-old right-hander walked Teixeira ahead of Cano's second homer of the season. Jeter's RBI single made it 3-0 and Teixeira gave Sabathia a four-run lead when his double down the right field line drove in Jeter from first base.
Davis allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out three.