Sabathia insisted afterward that he wasn't feeling any extra pressure in his first start for the storied franchise. But there will be pressure aplenty for start No. 2, because he can't possibly throw up two clinkers like this in a row, not for $161 million. He can't, can he?
Sabathia also insisted his stuff was fine. But the stat line said otherwise. For the first time since one other especially awful performance in 2005, he did not strike out a single batter. A very tough Baltimore crowd, which made hometown boy Mark Teixeira, the Yankees' other new $100 million-plus man, their true marked man, still reserved a couple derisive remarks for Sabathia. Fans chanted "Overrated'' when Sabathia departed with one out in the fifth inning. And on this day, that seemed about right.
Sabathia is supposed to be the main savior for an organization that needed his sort of dominating pitching, but played the opposite role on Opening Day here in the Yankees' 10-5 defeat (RECAP | BOX) to a scrappy Orioles team that hit like crazy.
"Today, I didn't do my job,'' said Sabathia, whose ugly pitching line included eight hits, six earned runs and five walks, including four unintentional. "I'll go out in five games, and try to get it done.''
After a performance such as this, that sounded as much a threat as a promise. All spring, the Yankees talked about how great their pitching is, and how great they felt about this team, and also how much of that good feeling is attributable to the presence of their new $161 million pitcher.
But on this day, CC was a mess. He wore a heating pad in the dugout he said to keep warm -- though it wasn't an especially chilly day (56 degrees).
He occasionally questioned the mound, Jorge Posada said, even though it was the same mound that produced a lifetime 5-0 record and 2.60 ERA going in.
He kept having to meet with his new batterymate, and admitted to sign-calling screwups. "We just got crossed up a couple times,'' Sabathia said.
He was behind all day and night in a game that was longer than a Joe Biden (the first-pitch thrower here) speech.
Sabathia, who may feel slightly better knowing he stunk early last year, positing a 7.87 ERA through April, 2008, chalked it all up to not being able to locate his fastball. But total truth be told, he didn't throw it all that hard, either. According to the scoreboard, he pitched at around 92-93 mph. Posada said it was 94-95. But in any case, it didn't overpower a soul.
After the buildup, the whole thing was such a letdown. Yet, manager Joe Girardi declared in the pregame press conference that he feels as good about this Yankees team as any team he's ever been associated with -- big talk since Girardi was on the 1998 Yankees team that won 125 games.
Of course, Girardi has no choice but to talk a monster game after the Steinbrenners spent $423.5 million on three free agents to enhance their chances after their 13-straight postseason streak came to an end. But the chances are he believes that talk.
Truthfully, Girardi missed a little chance for meaningful chatter in the game when the umpires ruled "no interference'' on a play where a man in a bright orange Orioles jersey reached out over the left field wall to grab a long fly ball hit by Cesar Izturis away from Yankees left-fielder Johnny Damon. The play was much like the famed Jeffrey Maier fiasco that aided the Yankees momentously, so maybe there was justice to the bad call that helped the Orioles in front 8-5 after a Hideki Matsui two-run home run provided brief hope. Even so, Girardi should have asked for the replay to be reviewed. He said he didn't make the request when the umps sounded sure of themselves, an unworthy alibi indeed.
Perhaps the Yankees were surprised to be involved in a close game. Perhaps they feel like they should be pummeling the supposedly second-division Orioles, and not relying on replays, after remaking their roster this winter.
Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are supposed to give the Yankees the type of punch-out pitchers they need.
Teixeira, the native Marlyander, and third member of the Yankees' offseason haul, was dissed and hissed here for no good reason. As he said about his call to go to the rival Yankees for more money ($180 million) and a better October chance, "I think anybody in my position would have done the same thing.''
Then later, he confided, "The Orioles weren't really involved.''
The Orioles made an early and quick pass in a seeming attempt to show their fans they were involved for the great Severna Park, Md., star. But they really weren't.
Orioles fans don't know that, so they boo him like crazy. And Teixeira pleased them by doing nothing, by going 0-for-4 with a walk, and by grounding out with the tying run at third base in the eighth inning.
"I didn't get it done today,'' Teixeira said.
That makes two of 'em. Between Sabathia and Teixeira, the Yankees got zero return on their $341 million investment.