Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Sabathia On Meaning Of 250 Wins: "I've been blessed"

CC Sabathia after achieving the milestone victory. Photo by Jason Schott.

CC Sabathia earned the 250th victory of his illustrious career as the Yankees routed the Tampa Bay Rays, 12-1, on Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium to complete a three-game sweep of their division rivals.

Sabathia has definitely built a Hall of Fame career, as he has hit this major plateau, and he also got his 3,000th strikeout a milestone he also achieved earlier this season, on April 30 at Arizona. He also is a Cy Young Winner, which he earned in 2007 with the Indians, and helped lead the Yankees to a World Championship in 2009.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of CC's Hall of Fame credentials, "I think he's a lock. This is it for him, I think in five years they come calling."

On hearing people say he's worthy of the Hall of Fame, Sabathia said, "That means a lot. Just to have somebody mention you have a Hall of Fame career means a lot. I've been blessed to play with some great teams, be around some great organizations, some great players, and a lot of it's rubbed off. It feels good to have those numbers."

Sabathia is now just the 14th pitcher in Major League history with 250 wins and 3,000 strikeouts.

"It's crazy to put my name up there with some of those guys that I idolized, some of those names that are enshrined in baseball history," CC said of joining that elite club. "To be a part of that, it's a big deal, it's fun to have those numbers, I guess." 

Boone said of CC's accomplishments, ""I mean, to come into 3,000 (strikeouts), now 250 (wins), you know, this is a sport that goes back a long, long ways and those are numbers that - more so than any other sport - mean something and speak to his greatness and his longevity."

Boone said of how Sabathia has been so good for so long, "Great athlete and can repeat his mechanics, so that delivery has not only allowed him to stay healthy, but it's allowed him to evolve. Obviously, going back to when I first faced him and he's this overpowering young stud pitcher, to being able - the way you're able to reinvent yourself and pitch as well as he has as long as he has, is because you're athletic and you have a really good delivery, and a good throw, and that's essentially what he has, and that's he's been able to adapt as he's gotten here later in his career."

Sabathia said of his longevity, "Just being blessed, for sure. Like I said, I've gotten to play with some great players and had some of those guys rub off on me, like Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, just thinking about the second half of my career, learning the cutter and where that's taken me. If Mariano had not pitched in (2013), I'd probably be out of the game. To have those two willing to help me and willing to tutor me means a lot."

Sabathia is now just the third African-American pitcher to win 250 games, joining Bob Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins in the elite club. 

"That's a huge accomplishment, that means a lot," CC said. "You know, being an African-American pitcher, being from the inner city and wanting this game to grow again back in the inner city, having the chance to put up these numbers and see some of these kids know that I'm from where they're from. I love this game of baseball; hopefully, it opens some doors for some kids to open their eyes to start playing the game."

Sabathia said of what earning his 250th means to him, "Just another win for us, a sweep against a very good team. We wanted to keep it rolling today, and I was able to come out and get us a win. Guys came out and swung the bats early, Gary (Sanchez) caught a great game and we were able to get the sweep."

Sabathia went six innings on Wednesday against Tampa Bay, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks, with 7 strikeouts, and he is now 4-4 on the season with a 4.14 ERA.

On what it means to get this win against a division rival, Sabathia said, "I think that's the biggest thing is coming out today and getting the sweep, especially the way we did it, getting that 12-1 win, making a statement that we're a pretty good team and we want to keep going."

Boone said of CC's performance in this one, "For him to go out there today and he was great. We talked a lot about his last couple outings where he was struggling to find the cutter a little bit. I think he got better as the game kind of unfolded. I thought his stuff improved as it unfolded. He stared at me pretty hard walking off the sixth, I thought he was going to challenge me for the seventh, but no, really excited for him to go out and set the tone for us today and finish off a really good series."

Sabathia said of that look he gave Boone and if he wanted to come out for the seventh, "For sure, I mean, he caught that right away as I was walking off. I felt, when I'm out there, you might as well let me keep going, so yeah, I mean, I always want to be out there."

On how he views the difference of reaching the 3,000-strikeout and 250-win milestones, Sabathia said, "I guess, to get a win, so many things have to go right, you know. I feel like when you get strikeouts, it's kind of you. For the team, it's a team win more so than yourself, so just one of those things where, I feel like when the team wins, or when I win a game, it's because of everyone else."

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