As the big left-hander he walked toward the batter's box, he looked up to see Carter Sabathia waiting in the front row. The father slid his massive frame through the netting and gave his youngest son a huge hug , followed by embraces with the rest of his family.
After months of anticipation and three starts with his family in tow, Sabathia could finally celebrate a milestone only 16 other players in 143 years of major league baseball had accomplished.
"It's been a fun time these past couple weeks, these guys following around with me," Sabathia said Tuesday night after becoming the 17th player in major league history and third left-hander to reach 3,000 career strikeouts. "It's a special time."
The Yankees lost the game 3-1 to the Diamondbacks, thanks to a sterling performance by Arizona's own ace Zack Greinke.
The night still belonged to Sabathia, the affable ace who can still dominate at 38.
Sabathia (1-1) arrived in the desert needing three strikeouts to hit 3,000 and got them all in the second inning.
The milestone whiff came when John Ryan Murphy, his former batterymate in New York, swung through a changeup , sending the Yankees spontaneously pouring out of the dugout . The crowd roared and continued cheering until Sabathia tipped his cap before hugging his kids.
"It's disappointing to lose, but tonight's about celebrating the man in what's been an amazing career," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "To be a part of it was special."
Playing his final season, Sabathia became the first pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts since Atlanta's John Smoltz in 2008, and joined Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton as the only lefties to do it.
Wilmer Flores hit a solo homer and a run-scoring single off Sabathia. He allowed two runs and five hits, and struck out five before being lifted with two on and one out in the sixth inning.
"I was a baseball fan tonight," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "What he did is a pretty amazing accomplishment."
Greinke (5-1) won his fifth straight game and stretched his scoreless innings streak to 18 before Gleyher Torres' run-scoring double in the fourth inning.
Greinke allowed one run and five hits in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and has 2,481 in his career to move past Jack Morris (2,478) for 38th all-time.
"It was cool, nice facing him," Greinke said of Sabathia. "Always like seeing what some guys have and what makes them good."
Greg Holland worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save in six chances.
CC AND MURPHY
Sabathia did not want Murphy to be the victim of No. 3,000. It just worked out that way.
Murphy spent three seasons with the Yankees and caught 62 of Sabathia's strikeouts, including No. 2,500 in 2015.
"It is just speaks to the pitcher that he is," said Murphy, who jokingly asked Sabathia if he wanted him to sign the ball. "To do what he has been able to do the last few years after not being able to have the velocity that he had and a couple of knee injuries that he had, speaks to the kind of guy he is and the competitor he is."
GODLEY TO BULLPEN
Lovullo shook up his starting rotation by sending struggling right-hander Zack Godley to the bullpen.
A replacement in the rotation was not named.
Godley is 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA with 18 walks in 29 2/3 innings. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings and gave up five runs his last start against the Chicago Cubs.
Arizona also reinstated LHP T.J. McFarland (shoulder) from the 10-day injured list. The reliever had been out since March 25 after a steady 2018 season.
Yankees: Infielders DJ LeMahieu (right knee) and Gio Urshela (left hand) were on the bench after being removed from Sunday's game with injuries. Urshela grounded out as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. ... SS Troy Tulowitzki (left calf) hit a two-run homer for Single-A Tampa in a rehab game Tuesday night and 3B Miguel Andujar (right shoulder) was 0 for 4 with two errors.
Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka has allowed one earned run in four of six starts heading into Wednesday's game against Arizona. He faces RHP Merrill Kelly, who's held right-handers to a .222 average in his first big-league season.
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