CC Sabathia has never endured a winless stretch of more than six starts during any of his 15 major league seasons.
The team with which he recorded half of his 212 victories can change that.
Only two active pitchers have more career wins, but only two have a worse ERA than Sabathia this season going into the New York Yankees' matchup Sunday with the Cleveland Indians - one of the few teams which hasn't battered him in recent years.
Starting the pitcher with the worst ERA on its active roster wouldn't seem to boost New York's chances of forging a four-game split with the Indians in the Bronx.
Sabathia (4-9, 5.24 ERA), though, is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA over his last four starts against Cleveland, where he won 106 games from 2001-08. In the lone matchup this season, the left-hander yielded two runs despite allowing nine hits in six innings of a 2-1 defeat Aug. 12. That's one of only nine quality starts in Sabathia's 23 games this year, and he failed to get another one Tuesday when he gave up four runs in 6 2-3 innings of an 8-4 win over Minnesota.
However, it did mark his third straight start without allowing a run through the first four innings.
"It seemed like the sixth and seventh, the innings started to get a little harder for him as his pitch count started to mount but I thought he pitched a really good game," manager Joe Girardi said.
The loss to Cleveland (57-65) is his only one in six starts since the All-Star break - he's received one run of support in five of them - but he hasn't won any of the others to equal his longest winless streak in any single season. Sabathia entered the year second among active players in wins but has been passed by Bartolo Colon (214) and tied by Mark Buehrle (212). Tim Hudson is first with 220.
Counterpart Trevor Bauer (9-10, 4.62) has been significantly worse since the break, going 1-5 with a 7.05 ERA in seven games, and the last two were particularly awful. He was tagged for six runs and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings against the Yankees on Aug. 13, then was charged with five runs in 1 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 9-1 loss to Boston.
"He's fighting it right now. I think we all know that," manager Terry Francona said. "... I think right now he's probably second-guessing himself a little bit."
The right-hander is 1-3 with a 5.85 ERA in four starts versus the Yankees (68-54). Brian McCann is 4 for 8 against Bauer and homered off him last week.
McCann snapped an 0-for-11 slump with a first-inning homer Saturday, and Brett Gardner added a two-run shot as New York won 6-2 after being held to five runs through the first two games of this series.
Saturday's performance came after the Yankees retired Jorge Posada's No. 20 and unveiled his plaque in Monument Park. There will be another such ceremony Sunday for Andy Pettitte's No. 46.
Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira is likely to miss a sixth consecutive game after fouling a ball off his right leg Monday.
Michael Brantley, batting .424 in his last 14 games despite going hitless Saturday, is 1 for 11 with six strikeouts against Sabathia.
Rookie Francisco Lindor was a triple shy of the cycle following a 4-for-23 slump for the last-place Indians, who have a 4-2 lead in this season series.