TORONTO -- Even when you are 0-5 with a 5.45 ERA, you can still act like a champion. CC Sabathia is not the same starter who lifted the New York Yankees on his back in 2009 to the World Series, but the heart and mind is still there, even if the body isn't yet ready to follow.
On Wednesday, Sabathia lost again, got hit hard again and told the truth again.
"I'm just good enough to lose right now," an accountable Sabathia said after allowing four runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
While Sabathia was honest, his manager sugar-coated it all, per usual, talking as though these games aren't available for the public to witness.
"He's pitched well enough to win, two or three games," Joe Girardi said. "We just haven't scored a lot of runs."
Yes, the Yankees have only scored 13 runs in Sabathia's six starts, but a 5.45 ERA is a 5.45 ERA.
Sabathia, as big a sports fan as there is in the Yankees' locker room, cares. He knows he is letting his team down. The Yankees are off to a nice start, but Sabathia is well aware that the club is 1-5 in his starts and 16-6 when anyone else gets the call.
With his honesty, though, Sabathia earns some confidence that his words can be trusted. The one thing he swears "1,000 percent" is he feels his stuff is way better than what he had the past two years, when he regressed from an ace to a mostly hurt, back-of-the-rotation guy.
So maybe the fact that Sabathia said his fastball was better -- he hit 93 on the gun -- is a sign that perhaps there are better days ahead for him. But words have to turn into actions, and soon.
The troublesome part of Wednesday was who beat Sabathia and when he did it. In the second, it was the No. 9 hitter, Ezequiel Carrera, who knocked a two-run single immediately after the Yankees had put a run on the board against Mark Buehrle in the first.
"I had a lead today," Sabathia said. "That is why it is so frustrating to give up a two-run single to a lefty, nine-hole hitter. Not taking anything away, this is the big leagues, I need to make a better pitch."
The odometer comes due on every starter, so Sabathia is trying to overcome all those innings, all those days of going on short rest, all those days when he pitched like the leader of a staff.
He is not that now. Nor do the Yankees need him to be that in the weak AL East. They just need him to slot behind Michael Pineda and maybe Masahiro Tanaka, if he can regain his health, and be a solid No. 3.
Sabathia believes he can be a contributor.
"My stuff is a lot better," Sabathia said. "My change-up and cutter weren't good, but my fastball was good. I'll keep going. I'll keep pushing and try to help this team win."
Sabathia expects more from himself. He has 208 wins in his career, so moral victories are not his thing. His results have earned him a ring and around $200 million for his bank account.
He needs to give more so his manager doesn't start his media conference on the defensive.
"He didn't pitch that poorly," Girardi said.
He pitched well enough to lose. Sabathia knew it better than anyone.