All it took was four batters to come to the plate and Alex Rodriguez to unleash his first swing for the Orioles to realize that the New York Yankees are suddenly a much different team than they were in early April.
They also found out quickly that CC Sabathia was a much different pitcher than he was on Opening Day.
In his much-anticipated return to the Yankees' lineup, Rodriguez hit a towering three-run homer on the first pitch he saw. That was much more than Sabathia would need as he dominated the Orioles, pitching a shutout in New York's 4-0 victory in front of an announced 36,926 at Camden Yards.
"One swing and the rest was CC," said Rodriguez, who turned around Jeremy Guthrie's 98 mph fastball in the first inning, depositing it several rows into the left-field seats amid a mixture of boos and cheers.
Sabathia, who was pounded by the Orioles for six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings on Opening Day, gave up hits to the first two batters he faced and then allowed just three base runners the rest of the way. The burly left-hander retired 16 straight Orioles before Cesar Izturis and Brian Roberts opened the ninth inning with singles.
Eyeing a complete game, Sabathia didn't blink, striking out Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Melvin Mora, all on off-speed pitches. He allowed just four hits and struck out eight, retiring 26 of the final 29 batters he faced to help the Yankees (14-15) end a five-game losing streak.
It was the first shutout at Camden Yards by an opposing pitcher since current Oriole Mark Hendrickson blanked the home team on April 6, 2006, as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
"Tonight belonged to Sabathia," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, whose team was trying to win three straight games for the first time this year. "He had it all going for him. He did what he had to do. He pitched a tremendous game."
Guthrie, a former teammate of Sabathia's with the Cleveland Indians, turned in a quality start, allowing three runs, seven hits and two walks, while striking out eight over six innings. However, he lamented his struggles in the first inning, when he issued consecutive one-out walks to Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira (Mount St. Joseph) and then the homer to Rodriguez, who missed the Yankees' first 28 games after having hip surgery.
"In hindsight, it was the wrong pitch," Orioles catcher Chad Moeller said of the fastball to Rodriguez. "It was definitely the wrong pitch at that moment."
Guthrie's velocity was the highest it's been all season as he was clocked in the mid- to high 90s for much of the night. But that was one case in which it worked against him.
"[It's] something that I've been working on," Guthrie said of the velocity. "Tonight, it was there, but it goes in hard and goes out hard and [Rodriguez] showed us that."
Guthrie struck out Rodriguez, who was chided by fans waving Styrofoam syringes behind the plate, in his next two at-bats. Teixeira, the Maryland native, went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and continued to hear the boos from Orioles fans. However, his struggles were little consolation to the Orioles (12-18), who had no answers for Sabathia.
"That's the Sabathia you saw last year in the National League, working both sides of the plate," Orioles first baseman Aubrey Huff said. "We couldn't pick up his curveball. That's why he got paid the big bucks. That's the kind of stuff he can bring every night."
Saturday, 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN HD
Radio: 105.7 FM