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"This is a great feeling," Sabathia said. "This is what you come here for, to play in the postseason games and try to perform. This feels good but we have a long way to go. From Day 1 of spring training you could tell this was going to be a memorable year for us."
Sabathia has been the No. 1 starter the Yankees had spent millions looking for since Andy Pettitte left for Houston and Roger Clemens temporarily retired after the 2003 season. Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson and Javier Vazquez all flopped in New York. And homegrown Chien-Ming Wang was a bust in the 2007 playoffs.
Sabathia slipped easily into the role, going 19-8 with a 3.37 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 230 innings, his lowest total since 2006. The Yankees went 22-12 in his starts and were 8-4 when he started after a loss. He was 11-2 after the All-Star break.
"CC is a bona fide ace," Johnny Damon said. "That's why he's the MVP."
Girardi was sure to give Sabathia plenty of rest down the stretch after the Yankees built a big lead in the AL East, and it has paid off in the playoffs.
Sabathia has gone deep in all of his postseason starts and still looks fresh enough for the Fall Classic. His ability to quickly rebound helped Milwaukee reach the postseason last year and gives Girardi the luxury of going with a three-man rotation in the best-of-seven World Series.
Sabathia came close to reaching the World Series in 2007, when Cleveland had a two-game lead over Boston in the ALCS. The loss left a big impression on him and was one of the reasons he chose to sign with the experienced Yankees.
"This feels good," Sabathia said. "Being up 3-1 in '07, feeling like we had a chance to go to the World Series and having that taken away from you, it feels good now."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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