CLEVELAND — CC Sabathia’s second stab at a milestone victory was a lot like the first one and left him looking at a third try.
Facing the team he broke into the majors with, the Yankees’ veteran lefty was the loser in an 8-4 defeat to the Indians on Saturday in front of 32,239 at Progressive Field.
Sabathia is searching for his 250th victory to pair with 3,000 strikeouts, something only 13 pitchers have achieved. That daily double isn’t needed for
Sabathia to get into the Hall of Fame, but only one pitcher — Roger Clemens, who remains on the ballot — with 250 wins and 3,000 punch outs isn’t a member of the Cooperstown fraternity.
Sabathia gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings and is 3-3 after losing consecutive starts for the first time in his final major league season.
The loss was the Yankees’ fifth in six games and combined with the Rays beating the Red Sox in the first game of a double-header Saturday afternoon cost them first place in the AL East, as Tampa Bay slipped ahead of them going into the nightcap.
Jonathan Holder replaced Sabathia to start the sixth with the Yankees trailing, 4-2, and gave up a two-run homer to Roberto Perez and a solo shot to Kevin Plawecki. Luis Cessa worked the eight and gave up a run.
In his second game back from the injured list, Didi Gregorius swatted a two-run homer to right in the first, but the Yankees didn’t score again until twice in the seventh when Gleyber Torres produced an RBI double and Gio Urshela a sacrifice fly.
The Yankees will attempt to avoid being swept by the Indians on Sunday when they will likely start reliever Chad Green and rely on the bullpen, since Masahiro Tanaka is not with the team after his wife delivered a girl on Friday.
Recalled from Triple-A to make his third start of the year, 27-year-old right-hander Adam Plutko limited the Yankees to two runs and three hits in six innings.
Sabathia appeared to do something to a body part when fielding Plawecki’s chopper toward the third base line starting the fifth. Sabathia gloved the ball and fired to first for the out, but walked slowly enough back to the mound that trainer Steve Donohue and manager Aaron Boone went to the mound. Sabathia has been on the injured list twice this season with right knee trouble.
Sabathia remained in the game and gave up a ground ball double just inside the third base bag to Francisco Lindor with two outs. Oscar Mercado then hit a ball over the right-field wall for a 4-2 Tribe lead.
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