This Day In Sports: Sabathia completes the path to 3,000

April 30, 2019, five years ago today: The New York Yankees’ CC Sabathia becomes the 17th member of baseball’s 3,000-strikout club. But more importantly, Sabathia also became only the third lefthander in history to reach 3,000.He joined Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton when he rang up Arizona’s John Ryan Murphy at Chase Field in Phoenix. The game ended up as a 3-1 loss, but that wasn’t the point. Sabathia was in his 19th and final season, and when Murphy swung and missed at strike three, Sabathia waited on the mound and smiled with his trademark cap slightly askew as his teammates poured out of the dugout for an impromptu celebration.

This was back when the pitching spot still batted in National League ballparks, and Sabathia was leading off the next inning for the Yankees. But that merely gave him a chance to take a bow at the top of the dugout steps—and to hug his kids and kiss his wife, as his family had rushed down to the first row to celebrate. “Since the end of last year and coming up short 14 strikeouts, it’s been the only thing I have been thinking about for the last six months,” Sabathia told “To actually have it done and now I can worry about the season. The ultimate goal is to try to win games.”

At age 20, Sabathia began his career with Cleveland in 2001 as the youngest player in the majors and was second in AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki after posting a 17-5 record. He was a hired gun for Milwaukee during the 2008 pennant race and helped the Brewers to their first playoff berth in 26 years. Sabathia then signed with the Yankees and spent his final 11 seasons in New York. The peak of his Yanks years came in 2009 when he was the MVP of the ALCS and won his only World Series ring.

Sabathia posted 251 victories against 161 losses in his career, and his final strikeout total was 3,093. He eclipsed the 200-strikeout mark just three times in his career, but for Sabathia, it was all about consistency and longevity. He is one of 10 pitchers to strike out at least 120 batters in 17 different seasons, and again, the only other lefties ever to do that are Carlton and Johnson.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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