C.C. Sabathia again did not bring his A-game to his second start of the season. The best you can say about his outing was that he hung on gamely and limited the damage to four runs in six difficult innings. Sabathia gave up eight hits and walked two and threw 112 pitches in his six innings of work. Seven of those hits were singles. The other was a double by Mark Reynolds that gave the Orioles their third and fourth runs. So perhaps this could be called a BABIP game for Sabathia as he did strike out eight Orioles. Robert Andino hit a solid single to center to score two runs but even Mark Reynolds’ double was off the hands and well placed between Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson.
What can be said is that Sabathia lacked command of his fastball again. He threw only 15 of his 26 four-seam fastballs for strikes and he didn’t record a single swing and miss with that pitch. He fared much better with his slider and changeup. Sabathia recorded eight swing and misses with his changeup and six more with his slider. Sabathia will have better outings than this one. But he held on long enough to keep his team in the game.
Jake Arrieta started much like Wei-Lyn Chen did the night before. Derek Jeter hit one of his patented dunk shots for a double to right to start the game and then Curtis Granderson hit a bomb to right. That was not a cheap home run as it went deep into the bleachers. The Yankees had a quick two-run lead. But like Chen the night before, Arrieta shut the door after that and the Yankees could do little with him until the fifth inning as Arrieta retired ten of his next eleven batters. He also did well to limit the damage in the fifth inning when the Yankees could have put the game away.
In the fifth, Raul Ibanez walked and Russell Martin was hit by a pitch to make it first and second with no outs. Brett Gardner singled to center to load the bases and there were still no outs. Arrieta got two quick strikes on Jeter and all Derek could do with the third pitch was to chop it weakly to second. Andino only had the play at first and Ibanez scored. But Granderson lined out to second and Robinson Cano popped up to the third baseman and the inning was over with only one run. That was big at the time because the next half inning was when Reynolds plated two runs to put the Orioles ahead by a run.
Arrieta sailed through the sixth inning in order including strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. The young Orioles’ pitcher reached his pitch limit the next inning and it cost him the game. Raul Ibanez flied out to deep center to start the seventh. Russell Martin followed with a single to center but Brett Gardner popped out to the shortstop. Arrieta was up to 109 pitches at the time and Buck Showalter came and got him with two outs and a runner on first. It seems easy from hundreds of miles away to question the Orioles’ manager that Arrieta couldn’t have gotten one more out. But Showalter has to protect his young pitcher and brought in old friend, Luis Ayala. And Ayala was a good friend in this situation.
Ayala walked Jeter and then Curtis Granderson hit a single to left to tie up the ballgame. Cano ended any further damage by popping up to the shortstop, his second straight infield fly of the game.
The score stayed tied at four until the top of the tenth. With a taxed bullpen, Boone Logan was asked to pitch an extended outing and he pitched a perfect inning and two-thirds with one strikeout. Without Logan’s bridge from Sabathia to Rafael Soriano, the Yankees would not have had a chance to win the game. Soriano ripped off a nail and could not pitch in Tuesday’s marathon because the tear broke the skin and he was bleeding. And perhaps that was again a problem on Wednesday, but the Yankees had no choice but to use him and give Soriano credit. His outing was not pretty as he allowed four base runners in his inning and a third but none of them scored. He was rewarded with the win after Swisher’s heroics in the tenth.
Mariano Rivera pitched all three games of this series and has pitched in four of the Yankees’ first six. So this off day comes at a good time. The old closer was not at his sharpest as he needed nineteen pitches to put away the Orioles. He allowed a single and struck out a batter and the Yankees will take the win.
Nick Swisher: Swish only went one for five and failed earlier with a man on third and less than two outs. But you cannot argue with the game-winning homer.
Curtis Granderson: Granderson broke out a bit tonight with two hits in five at bats including the first-inning homer. He drove in three runs in the game.
Mark Teixeira: Teix had two hits in five at bats and his double with two outs in the tenth allowed Swisher his glory shot.
Boone Logan: Logan’s relief outing was big during a game in which there was no one else to call on in the bullpen.
Robinson Cano: Cano went hitless in five at bats and left four runners on base. He did have a spectacular fielding play in the eighth inning though.
Eduardo Nunez: Another day, another adventure. Nunez pinch ran for A-Rod and promptly stole second and went to third on Matt Wieter’s throwing error. But then in the tenth inning, after hitting a single with one out, Nunez was picked off for the second out.
The Yankees have the day off tomorrow and will enjoy their home opener on Friday afternoon against the Angels. Hiroki Kuroda will make his second start of the season and will face Ervin Santana. Jorge Posada will be honored by the Yankees and will throw out the first pitch before the game.