x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sabathia out to rule world

The overpowering left-hand pitcher received a contract from the New York Yankees that matched his mountainous presence on the mound for one big reason: to lead them back to a World Series title.

The Angels' Chone Figgins sits despondently in the team's dugout after their series defeat.
The Angels' Chone Figgins sits despondently in the team's dugout after their series defeat.

CC Sabathia, the overpowering left-hand pitcher, received a contract from the New York Yankees that matched his mountainous presence on the mound for one big reason: to lead them back to a World Series title. He is almost there. Sabathia was named the most valuable player of the American League championship series after two dominant performances as the Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 on Sunday to complete a 4-2 series win and set up a World Series showdown with the Philadelphia Phillies.

As the fallen Angels licked their wounds and headed back to the West Coast, 28-year-old Carlton Charles Sabathia was looking forward to his next start - and it will be a tantalising one. The 6ft 7ins flamethrower will oppose his former Cleveland teammate and Cy Young winner Cliff Lee when the Yankees host Philadelphia tomorrow in the first World Series game at the new Yankee Stadium. Signed to a $161 million (Dh591m), seven-year deal as the linchpin of the Yankees' $423.5 million off-season push to return to the play-offs, Sabathia has brushed aside the pressure of the post-season from his first start. After tying for the major league lead with 19 regular-season wins, he shut down the Minnesota Twins in the opener of the division series and is 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA for the play-offs.

Sabathia, of course, has not been the only New York pitcher to dominate in the post-season. On Sunday, as the Yankees swept into the Fall Classic for the first time in six years, Andy Pettitte pitched into the seventh for the win, a 16th career post-season victory that put him on top of MLB's all-time list. He was aided by a two-run single from Johnny Damon in a three-run rally in the fourth that erased a 1-0 deficit.

"This is a great time," the Yankees' manager Joe Girardi said in the team's clubhouse. "But we're not done yet." Some sharp fielding helped the Yankees' cause, while a defensive breakdown once again sabotaged the Angels after they had scored a run off the Yankee closer Mariano Rivera in the top of the eighth to claw their way back to 3-2. The Yankees added two insurance runs in the bottom of the inning without benefit of a hit thanks to Angels' fielding miscues on two sacrifice bunts.

"I want to congratulate the Yankees," the Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They played an incredible series. They outplayed us and they deserved to win. At times we played good baseball. At times we shot ourselves in the foot. The Yankees are a team that you can't give extra outs to." The win for Pettitte, his fifth in a series-clinching game, moved him past John Smoltz to the top of the MLB post-season wins list.

* With agencies Editorial, a25