Dominant in his last two outings against the Rangers and Tigers, Sabathia pitched eight innings in both games, giving up only six runs and striking out a whopping 16 batters.
"That's why we call him an ace," teammate Andruw Jones said. "Every time he goes out there, you can count on eight innings. It's good to have a guy like that on your team."
Those numbers are a bad sign for the Royals, who could have a tough time finding success against the left-hander on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.
Among active American League hurlers, Sabathia owns the most career wins against the Royals. In 34 career starts, he is 17-10 with a 3.30 ERA. The lefty has also recorded at least seven innings and three earned runs in 14 of those outings.
Sabathia will be up against Royals starter Bruce Chen, who is trying to rebound from his worst start of the season on Sunday.
Tossing a season-low 2 2/3 innings against the Twins, the left-hander surrendered six runs on six hits for his third consecutive loss. A far departure from his four previous outings, Chen gave up a total of seven earned runs in 25 innings before the ugly loss.
"It wasn't Bruce's day. He just didn't have his good stuff," Royals manager Ned Yost said after the game. "He couldn't command it, he didn't have the velocity on his fastball. It was just one of those days for Bruce."
Yankees: Mariano suffers torn ACL; future in doubt
Closer Mariano Rivera suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, as well as a partially torn meniscus, while shagging fly balls in the outfield before Thursday's game against the Royals. The 42-year-old all-time saves leader could not say if he will ever pitch from a Major League mound again.
"At this point, I don't know," Rivera said, repeating in a soft hush, "At this point, I don't know. We have to face this first."
Rivera was taken to Kansas University MedWest hospital for an MRI during Thursday's game, which revealed the tear. The Yankees want to have Rivera travel to New York to be examined by their own physicians, but they are not expecting a miraculous change of fortune. Rivera said he was in no hurry to get back to New York and that he would prefer to stay with the team in Kansas City.
Rivera had strongly hinted this spring that the 2012 season could be his last, saying that he had already reached a decision about his baseball future and that it was "irrevocable."
Royals: Betancourt placed on DL
Dealing with a painful right ankle sprain, Royals infielder Yuniesky Betancourt was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday. Infielder Irving Falu was called up from Triple-A Omaha to take Betancourt's spot on the roster.
With Betancourt on the DL, Chris Getz will now take over as the everyday second baseman.
Betancourt injured his ankle while taking a swing during a Spring Training game about a month ago, but had continued to play.
"It wasn't getting any better," said Yost. "We injected it, and he felt better for a little bit, but it's just progressively getting worse and worse."
Award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth will join former Royals All-Stars George Brett and Mike Sweeney at the MLB All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run, which takes place Sunday, July 8, in downtown Kansas City. The Emmy and Tony award winner is a Stand Up to Cancer ambassador, and currently stars in the ABC series "GCB."
The Yankees are 23-9 in games immediately following shutout losses since the start of the 2008 season, winning six of the last eight such contests.
The Yankees are 9-1 this season when leading after seven innings.