CC Sabathia was already a beloved figure in the New York Yankees' clubhouse, but the burly pitcher endeared himself to his teammates even further on Thursday. That’s because he plunked a Tampa Bay Rays batter in retaliation for a dangerous pitch thrown by the other team — and may well have cost himself $500,000 in the process.
In his final start of 2018, Sabathia was set to hit a hefty contractual bonus if he could reach a season total of 155 innings. He was cruising along through five frames, but by getting tossed in the bottom of the sixth for hitting the Rays' Jesus Sucre on the leg, he wound up at 153.
The 38-year-old left-hander had something to say during the contest, as well. As he left the field after being tossed by home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza, Sabathia motioned toward the Rays' dugout and yelled, “That’s for you, b----."
“I don’t even remember what I said,” Sabathia said. “I was just yelling. You all saw what happened.”
Sabathia had been visibly angered by an incident in the top half of the inning, when Tampa Bay reliever Andrew Kittredge threw a pitch that sailed toward the head of New York’s Austin Romine. The Yankees' catcher was able to fall to the dirt and avoid getting beaned, but as he exchanged words with Sucre, the Rays' catcher, Sabathia came out of his dugout and had to be restrained by Manager Aaron Boone.
“You throw a ball under a guy’s chin,” Sabathia said after the game (via the New York Post), “that’s not a good spot.”
Kittredge may have been reacting to Sabathia’s plunking of Tampa Bays’s Jake Bauers earlier in the game. In addition, the Rays' Kevin Kiermaier suffered a season-ending broken foot on Wednesday night when he was hit by a Yankees pitch.
“There’s no question there was intent. You’ve had some guys hit this series, and then you throw one over the head? Just kick rocks. I hated it,” said Boone (via ESPN). “If you’re going to play that game and you start messing around with people’s heads, we’re going to take exception to that.”
“It doesn’t matter what happens out there, you don’t throw at no one’s head,” the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton said. “He did what he felt was needed to do. Either way, I’m with [Sabathia]. Always.”
Sabathia even received words of support from the other clubhouse, with the Rays' Carlos Gomez saying, “I have a lot of respect for CC, and if he feels he should need to hit somebody and he did it, I have more respect because he protects his players. That’s how the game is supposed to be played. You protect your guys.”
Sabathia got the win to improve to 9-7 and improved his ERA to 3.65. As far as missing out on his bonus, he can take some comfort in the fact that not only did he earn the continued admiration of his teammates, he is also already being paid a base salary of $10 million for this season, bringing his career earnings to over $250 million.
In addition, Boone would not rule out the possibility of finding a couple of innings of relief work for Sabathia during the Yankees' season-ending series against the Red Sox, which starts Friday. New York has clinched a berth in a wild-card game next week against the Oakland A’s, while Boston has locked up the AL East title.
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