The obvious first: the Yankees lost 8-3 in a sloppy, four hour, 19 minute game that ended just before 12:30 a.m. and put them on the brink of elimination with Justin Verlander starting Game 5 for Houston.
Masahiro Tanaka gave up more than two runs for the first time in a playoff start. Gary Sanchez struck out with the bases loaded in the first inning. Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnacion fanned with the bases loaded in the fifth.
And Adam Ottavino is quickly becoming less and less popular with each appearance out of the bullpen.
In the top of the eighth, Boone called on his former teammate, CC Sabathia, to pitch out of a jam. But the outing ended with the lefty leaving because of an apparent arm injury in the middle of an at-bat to George Springer.
“We’ve got to see more about it, but not good with the shoulder,” Aaron Boone said.
Sabathia, in the final season of an MLB career that began in 2001, likely walked off the mound for the final time. Even if he recovers quickly, he could be taken off the roster, which would mean missing not only the test of rest of the ALCS but the World Series if the Yankees were to pull of a comeback.
“I do think there’s a chance of it,” Boone said of Sabathia being replaced on the roster. “We’ll kind of go through that process and I’ll get with C and see where he’s at and we’ll talk about who that would be.”
Well respected around the league, Fox cameras showed Springer clapping for Sabathia as he walked off the mound, as well as Gerrit Cole clapping from the top step of the Houston dugout.
Twitter tributes followed, including former Yankee pitcher Phil Hughes, who said “Best teammate I ever had. Gave everything for his first pitch to his last. Thank you CC.”
Sabathia is the active leader in wins. And innings pitched. And starts. And strikeouts. And complete games. And home runs allowed. And walks. And hits allowed. And losses. And earned runs allowed. And hit by pitches. And batters faced.
You can’t talk about the last 20 years of baseball without Sabathia being a key player. In his MLB debut he faced Cal Ripken Jr. The 2007 Cy Young. His incredible run of seven complete games, including three shutouts, in 17 starts for the 2008 Brewers as he dragged them to the playoffs. Leading the league in wins twice with the Yankees and being the ace of the 2009 World Series champs.
His career looked like it was at the end of the line several years ago as injuries slowed him down. But he bounced back and was a key member of the 2017 squad that was one win away from the World Series, going 14-5 and saving his best performances after a Yankees loss.
Sabathia and Brett Gardner are the only Yankees remaining from that 2009 title team. He didn’t have his best stuff this year but he did reach the 250-Win and 3,000 strikeout milestones, all but ensuring his enshrinement in Cooperstown.
He was not only a talented pitcher but a clubhouse leader. The team rallied around him when he announced he was going to rehab for an ongoing alcohol problem before the 2015 postseason began.
As Sabathia wrote in The Players Tribune in 2016, “I’ve played in sold out stadiums. I’ve undergone numerous surgeries. And I’ve even pitched in the World Series. But nothing scared me more than saying these three words: ‘I need help.’”
Boone and Sabathia were teammates, briefly, on the Indians in 2005. On Thursday, Boone came out to check on his pitcher and Sabathia walked off the mound.
If it is for the last time, Sabathia can take solace in the fact that he truly gave everything he had to the game.