Twice during Friday's 4-3 win against the Rays, Sabathia was seen shouting as he walked off the mound. After barely missing designated hitter Austin Meadows with an inside pitch, he appeared to yell to his own dugout that he "was definitely trying to hit his ass."
Later, after striking out Brandon Lowe, Sabathia seemed to turn his attention to the opposing dugout.
After the game, Sabathia chalked the intensity up to his passion to win and not the budding rivalry with his division rivals.
"Just excited about the game," Sabathia said, according to Coley Harvey of ESPN. "We're playing for first place."
Yankees skipper Aaron Boone reiterated that sentiment.
"CC's always got a little bit of an edge," Boone said. "He gets between the lines. He's an awesome competitor. You're going up against a good club, and he went out and set the tone really well to start off this series."
That incident followed hot-tempered history between the clubs after both teams exchanged hit batters and harsh words last fall. Sabathia was ejected from that contest.
The Yankees and Rays have two more games in this weekend's series and won't face off again until June 17-19 at Tropicana Field. Altogether, the teams have 13 more games against each other before the end of July.