The Yankees and A’s traded punches all afternoon, with CC Sabathia struggling with his command and Brett Anderson giving up some long balls. Sabathia allowed 7 runs (6 earned) on 6 hits, 4 walks, and just 2 K’s in 6.2 innings. The Yankees got HR’s from Matsui, Melky, and Jeter, and entered extra innings tied at 7 despite failing to score in the 7th after loading the bases with no one out. The game went to the bottom of the 14th on the strength of 7.1 shut out innings from Coke, Albaladejo, Rivera, Marte, Edwar, and Veras, with Jose going 3.1 innings and striking out 4. Melky Cabrera finally sent everyone home with a blast off of old friend Dan Giese in the 14th.
What I Liked
1) The bullpen, Veras in particular- Jose Veras came in and promptly walked the first man he faced. It seemed that it would be the same old Veras at that point, great stuff but unable to find the plate. He proceeded to retire the next ten batters, constantly getting ahead in the count and using his great breaking ball to befuddle hitters. While one appearance does not a comeback make, it was nice to see the Jose Veras of the first half of last year show up. Jonathan Albaladejo was also notable for his one inning of work, partuclarly because Joe went to him in a tie game in the 8th inning. His role has really expanded over the last few days, and he has done nothing to make anyone doubt that choice.
2) Melky Cabrera- He had an interesting game, with a homer and a walk early followed by three consecutive K’s, one with the bases juiced and no one out. However, he capped of his day with a two run homer that he drilled to right to win the game. He has an OPS of 1.211 in limited duty thus far, and is likely to steal some at bats from a scuffling Brett Gardner. When things are going well, Melky likes like he is really enjoying himself out there, and a bounce back year from him would be a nice story.
3) Derek Jeter- Jeter did have one defensive gaffe, throwing home instead of to first on a double play ball, where an out at first would have ended the inning. However, he continues to drive the ball at the plate, going 2-7 with a home run and an RBI double. Both of his XBH helped score the go-ahead run at the time. Jeter seems to have regained the power that was missing from his game for much of last season, something that bodes well for the Yankees and Derek.
4) The old guys, again- If the Yankees get decent production from Damon, Matsui, and Posada, this offense is going to score a ton of runs. The trio went 7 for 18 with 3 walks, and Matsui homered as his power stroke continues to return. Damon did drop an easy fly ball that eventually cost the Yankees a run in a tight game.
5) Nick Swisher- Swish has been in a bit of a slump lately, but reached base 4 times today, on 3 walks and a single. He has shown an excellent batting eye, as every count seems to go to 3-2. He is already a fan favorite, and if he continues to reach base even during his slumps, he should maintain that status throughout the year.
What I Didn’t Like
1) CC Sabathia- CC was wild all day, with spotty fastball command and an inability to finish off hitters. He allowed 6 earned runs, and did nothing to help himself by walking four batters. He has been wild in 3 of his 4 starts thus far, and the Yankees really need him to begin locating that fastball so that he can get back on track.
When CC came out for the 7th, many were surprised, as he had been scuffling and was at 100 pitches. When he got into trouble and was allowed to face Matt Holliday with the tying run at third, the murmurs about Joe Girardi began to grow. And when Holliday delivered an RBI single to tie the game, the screams about Girardi’s pitching decisions were at full throat. Personally, I had no problem with the manager letting his workhorse ace try and work out of trouble in a game against the A’s in April. He showed CC that he has full faith in him, and that the Yankees are counting on him to go deep into games.
I remember a similar reaction when Joe did the same thing last April and allowed Mike Mussina to face Manny Ramirez in a big spot late in a game. Although he got burned, Joe stated that he did it to send Moose a message, and Moose said that it meant a lot to him. While that may not be the reason that Moose went on to have a great year, it is important to note that sometimes these pitching decisions, particularly in April, are not entirely made with the game situation in mind. The manager has the responsibility to deal with the personalities of the players, and we as fans often do not have all of the relevant information to rationally critique a decision based on various factors.