O’s want to beat Sabathia, but not because he hit Nick Markakis

It seems some Orioles fans have not been able to forget what happened in the fifth inning at Camden Yards on the night of Sept. 8. The Yankees’ CC Sabathia hit Nick Markakis with a pitch on his left thumb. Markakis suffered a broken thumb and has been out of the lineup ever since.

Tonight, when the Orioles face Sabathia again in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, they want to beat him to win this series and not because they feel Sabathia intentionally hit Markakis. In fact, they don’t feel that way at all.

“Do you think he was trying to hit him? No,” Adam Jones said in the O’s clubhouse Saturday. “CC pitches in to Nick 90 percent of the time. Things happen. Injuries happen in the game. If anyone feels he was throwing at him, you’re not a good sports fan.”

“I played with CC in 2008 and he’s one of the best teammates I’ve played with,” O’s shortstop J.J. Hardy said. “I don’t think he was trying to hit Nick. Obviously, we don’t know that. The ball might have gotten away from him and it took out one of the leaders and better players on this team. It’s too bad, but I don’t know if anyone is looking at CC as if he did that on purpose.”

Mark Reynolds had a similar take.

“No, I don’t think CC hit him on purpose,” he said. “A fastball got away from him and Nick’s hand happened to be there. There are no hard feelings about it. At the same time, we wish we had Nicky in there now.”

Through the years, Sabathia has had his way with the Orioles, but not this season. He entered this year with a record of 16-2 and ERA of 2.74 in 22 starts against Baltimore. But this season he is 0-2 with an ERA of 6.38 and batting average against of .312 over three starts.

Sabathia vs. the Orioles in 2012:
* April 11 at Camden Yards: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R/ER
* May 15 at Camden Yards: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R/ER
* Sept. 8 at Camden Yards: 6 1/3 IP, 8 H, 5 R/ER

Jones was asked about the O’s success against Sabathia this year.

“He’s still an ace. He’s still Sabathia,” Jones said. “He could go out there and go eight innings on 90 pitches. We have to put pressure on him and make him uncomfortable. We have to run and do whatever we can do to get him uncomfortable which is tough to do.”

I asked Reynolds about the key for the O’s tonight against the lefty that won the 2007 AL Cy Young Award.

“He’s going to try to feed off our aggressiveness. We are an aggressive, free-swinging team. He’ll probably try to throw some offspeed against us and try to get us to chase his pitch. We have to be patient and get our pitch. He’s always around the zone, he’s a strike thrower. We just have to make sure the strikes we swing at are quality pitches to hit. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game and it’s going to be a battle,” Reynolds said.

More Sabathia stats:
* He is 15-6 with a 3.38 ERA this season over 28 starts.
* He is 1-1 with an ERA of 1.50 over his last three starts.
* He is 7-4 with a 4.81 ERA in 15 career postseason starts.
* He is 4-1 with an ERA of 5.00 in eight career Division Series games.

Orioles top hitters vs. Sabathia:
.429 - J.J. Hardy, who is 6-for-14 with a homer.
.348 - Robert Andino, who is 8-for-23 with a homer.
.341 - Adam Jones, who is 14-for-41 with three homers.

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