CC Sabathia seems to be coming back at the right time for the New York Yankees .
The ace returns off the disabled list Friday night to face his former team as he tries to help the visiting Yankees hand the Cleveland Indians a ninth straight loss.
New York (72-52) finished a stretch of 20 games in as many days by being swept in three games in Chicago, losing 2-1 on Wednesday. The Yankees have seen second-place Tampa Bay creep closer in the AL East standings.
"I don't think I'm going to go jump off a bridge or anything like that," manager Joe Girardi said. "As I've said, it's baseball."
Sabathia (12-3, 3.56 ERA), out since Aug. 8 due to left elbow soreness, went through a 38-pitch session Tuesday and proclaimed himself ready to return after his second DL stint.
"It's a big relief that I can go out and throw all my pitches and not be hindered by anything, or feel like I can't throw (a) pitch because it might hurt," Sabathia told the Yankees' official website. "I have none of that, and today just confirmed that. I feel good about going out there on Friday."
Girardi said he will allow the left-hander to throw between 90-100 pitches.
"Well I think you have to watch him on Friday just because he hasn't thrown in two weeks," Girardi said. "He won't be on a normal pitch count where I'd let him go 115 or 120 at this time of the season so I think we'll have to watch a little bit, but not that closely."
Sabathia is 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts against Cleveland. Those decisions have all come in three outings at Progressive Field, where he has a 2.14 ERA with New York.
He could be returning to see a drab atmosphere surrounding his first team, with the Indians (54-70) dropping 21 of 25. The losing caused manager Manny Acta to discuss his job status after Wednesday's 3-1 defeat at Seattle.
"It's never been done in the history of the game where 25 guys are released," Acta said. "They should relax. If one guy is going to go, it's going to be me, not them."
Indians owner Paul Dolan says Acta's job is safe for now, and that he's not planning any overhaul of the team's front office.
"(They) have a lot of work to do, but their jobs aren't at stake in this," Dolan said.
Cleveland owns the AL's worst run differential at minus-131, getting outscored 51-24 in this slide and totaling five runs over its last four games.
The right-hander has failed to last past the fifth inning in three of four outings, pitching five innings and giving up four unearned runs Saturday to suffer an 8-5 loss to the Athletics.
The Yankees welcomed Thursday's off day after the taxing stretch.
"Playing every day is tough enough, you get 20 in a row, it's tough but like I said, most teams do it at some point," said shortstop Derek Jeter , who leads the majors with 169 hits. "You don't like it, but you have to do it."
|New York Yankees|
|August 22, 2012||Ivan Nova||15-Day DL||Right shoulder tightness|
|August 22, 2012||Ivan Nova||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder tightness|
|August 17, 2012||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|August 09, 2012||CC Sabathia||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
|July 25, 2012||Alex Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Non-displaced fracture in left hand|
|July 25, 2012||Nick Swisher||Day-to-Day||Strained left hip flexor|
|August 13, 2012||Josh Tomlin||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|August 13, 2012||Jason Kipnis||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|August 06, 2012||Travis Hafner||Day-to-Day||Back soreness|
|August 06, 2012||Travis Hafner||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|June 30, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||60-Day DL||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 29, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||Day-to-Day||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
CLEVELAND (AP) -- The New York Yankees were happy to get CC Sabathia back and delighted not to lose Derek Jeter .
Sabathia came off the disabled list and pitched well, Nick Swisher drove in three runs and Jeter shook off being beaned as New York broke a three-game losing streak by beating the Cleveland Indians 3-1 on Friday night.
"He took it like a champ," Swisher said of Jeter. The venerable Yankees captain was hit in the left side of his batting helmet by a pitch from rookie Corey Kluber in the second inning.
"I heard it and closed my eyes," Swisher continued. "Then I looked and he was walking around. What a champ. It didn't faze him at all. That could have been serious."
Cleveland lost its ninth straight as ex-Indian Sabathia (13-3) worked 7 1-3 strong innings. The left-hander had a perfect game until Asdrubal Cabrera homered with one out in the fourth. Sabathia walked one, struck out nine.
"He really knows how to pitch," manager Joe Girardi said. "I was pleasantly surprised how solid his command was. You don't throw for 15 days, you don't always get that."
Swisher broke a 1-1 tie with his 19th homer, off Cody Allen (0-1) in the seventh.
"I knew it was going to come at some point, but I hate that it happened in a situation like this," Allen said after yielding the first runs of his career, in his 13th outing.
Cleveland loaded the bases in the ninth against Rafael Soriano , but the right-hander got his 32nd save in 34 chances.
"We won, we won," Soriano said. "That is what counts."
With runners on second and third, Soriano struck out Matt LaPorta and got pinch-hitter Ezequiel Carrera to pop out to Jeter at shortstop. Soriano went to 3-0 on pinch-hitter Casey Kotchman before issuing an intentional walk to load the bases.
Pinch-hitter Jack Hannahan then grounded out to first as Cleveland continued its freefall fade. The Indians have been outscored 175-86 in losing 22 of their last 26.
"We played pretty decent tonight and had our chances offensively," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Still, you need to execute better than we did."
Sabathia made his first start since defeating Detroit on Aug. 8. He then went on the disabled list with an inflamed left shoulder, but showed no rustiness against the Indians, who dropped to 10-30 since the All-Star break.
"I felt good, strong, but we'll see how I feel in a couple of days," Sabathia said.
Jeter helped him with two fine plays at short minutes after the Yankees got quite a scare when their leader was hit in the head. The force of the impact knocked Jeter's helmet off and staggered the 38-year-old as a contingent of Yankees fans went from chanting, "Der-ek Je-ter" to eliciting a shocking groan. Jeter was visibly upset as he went to first base.
"Of course, I was angry," said Jeter, who had two hits and scored twice.
"Nobody wants to get hit in the head. There's pitching inside and then there is going up there. I'd like to hope he was just a kid trying to pitch inside. But that is a dangerous area to be doing it.
"It's pretty scary when it is coming at you. Did it hurt? No, it felt good. You get hit with a 90-something fastball and it is going to hurt."
Jeter had one thing to say to Kluber: "I told him, `Be careful when you throw up and in.' "
Moments later, Jeter went deep into the hole at short to field a grounder by Carlos Santana and throw him out. With two outs, Jeter ranged all the way into short left field to grab a grounder by LaPorta. He got that out, too, when first baseman Mark Teixeira scooped his low throw.
"Huge plays," Sabathia said. "That's Derek."
New York loaded the bases in the first two innings, but scored only once. Jeter doubled to open the game and scored on a double by Swisher.
Cabrera's 14th homer tied it at 1, hitting the first pitch after Sabathia uncorked a pitch behind him, the big lefty's way of retaliating for Jeter.
"It just got away," Sabathia said, smiling. "I was trying to cut it. It really cut."
Kluber struck out a career-high six over five innings in his best start in five outings since being called up.
NOTES: The Yankees' previous 12 homers came with the bases empty until Swisher connected. ... Jeter went 2 for 4 and has a .365 career average at Progressive Field, best by any player with 115 or more at-bats at the park. ... Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez (broken left hand, 15-day DL) and LHP Andy Pettitte (left ankle fracture, 60-day DL) are with the team. ... LaPorta was recalled from Columbus and RHP Frank Herrmann optioned to the Triple-A club. ... Girardi said RHP David Phelps likely will start Monday against Toronto in place of RHP Ivan Nova , put on the DL Thursday with an inflamed rotator cuff. ... Indians RHP Justin Masterson (9-11) faces Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda (12-8) Saturday.