Speaking after New York’s 6-2 victory at Yankee Stadium, Sabathia lashed out at the Red Sox, calling them “scared” and accusing them of “trying to take the weak road” by bunting against him. In particular, former Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez reached base in the first inning when Sabathia made an errant throw after fielding a bunt.
“It is kind of weak to me,” Sabathia said. “It is what it is. It just shows what they got over there.”
Sabathia, 37, spent 10 days on the disabled list in August because of inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee. He also is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox, who are batting .246 against left-handed starting pitchers, as compared to .267 against right-handed starters.
Nunez made a gesture of apology to Sabathia before his at-bat in the third inning. But Nunez also made it clear after the game that he wasn’t sorry for trying to reach base however he can.
“It’s my game. I cannot change my game,” Nunez said. “We know he has a bad knee, but it’s not my problem. I can’t change my game. I have to try bunting.”
Asked if he might try to bunt again the next time he faces Sabathia, Nunez said, “100 percent.”
“If I have to bunt four times in a row, I’ll do it,” Nunez said. “I don’t care if he’s mad or not. That’s what it is. I have to compete, and he has to figure it out. Play in. Or field the ball. I don’t care.”
Sabathia said he doesn’t believe his knee issues played a role in the Sox’s strategy.
“I think they think I’m a bigger guy and I can’t field my position,” Sabathia said. “I’m an old man, so they should go out and want to kick my butt. I just feel like they tried to take the weak road.”
Despite his error on Nunez’s bunt and back-to-back one-out walks of Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts, Sabathia escaped the first inning by striking out Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. As he walked off the mound, Sabathia gestured at the Red Sox’s dugout and shouted.
Sabathia gave up one run on four hits in six innings in his 250th career start for the Yankees. The Red Sox’s lone run against him came in the third, when Nunez singled, went to third on Benintendi’s single and scored on a groundout.
In 10 starts following a Yankees loss this season, Sabathia is 8-0 with a 1.44 ERA. He’s 11-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 22 starts overall this year. And his 15 career victories over the Red Sox as a member of the Yankees is the second most in club history, behind only Andy Pettitte (20).
“It gets you fired up,” Sabathia said. “It makes you want to beat them. Obviously, I want to win every time I go out there, but even more so after that. It is too much respect — scared. Let’s go. Let’s play.”
Sabathia said he wasn’t worried about a backlash from the Red Sox.
“I don’t give a f— about their reaction,” said Sabathia, who apologized for swearing. “I don’t really care what they have to say. I’m out there early every day. If they have something to say, we can meet in center field.”
ESPN’s Andrew Marchand contributed to this report.