Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t C.C. at his best or anything, and for a while it looked like it might be another rough outing for Sabathia as he allowed the Twins three runs through their first three innings. Josh Willingham took him deep to Monument Park in the second inning, and Sabathia allowed two runs in the third on a very strange sequence of events. Alexi Casilla singled with one out, and then after Denard Span didn’t like a first pitch called strike, home plate umpire Greg Gibson tossed both he and manager Ron Gardenhire from the game. When play finally resumed, Casilla advanced to second on a walk, and was then brought home by a double from Clete Thomas, who replaced Span. Thomas would then score on a single from Jamey Carroll, staking the Twins to a 3-1 lead.
The Yankees offense hadn’t helped much to that point, blowing a good chance to do some damage in the 2nd inning, and prompting concerns that we might be in for another irritating bout of RSIPFail. The inning started when Curtis Granderson drew a walk and then advanced to second on a balk (yes, both starting pitchers were called for a balk in this game, in addition to Gibson’s home plate shenanigans). Eduardo Nunez then moved him to third with a bunt single, and Brett Gardner brought him home with a ground rule double that put runners at second and third with no one out. That’s all the Yankees would get, however, as Chris Stewart couldn’t bring Nunez home with a ground ball, Derek Jeter struck out and, following a walk by Nick Swisher to load the bases, Robinson Cano ground out to end the inning and strand the bases loaded.
All was made up for in the third, however, when the bats broke out for four runs in the inning on the strength of three straight one out singles from Andruw Jones, Granderson, and Nunez before Gardner walked to load the bases with the score 3-2 and the light hitting Stewart once again coming to the plate. This time, however, Stewart ripped a solid single into left field, scoring Granderson and Nunez and moving Gardner to third with one out. That hit chased Liriano from the game after just 2.1 innings pitched, but Derek Jeter would promptly drive a pitch deep to right field. It didn’t drop for a hit, but the sac fly did bring Gardner in to stretch the Yankees’ lead to 5-3.
That would prove to be all Sabathia needed, as the big man finally settled into a groove and held the Twins scoreless the rest of the way. Sabathia would allow just two more baserunners to the Twins after the 3rd inning on a walk and an error by Alex Rodriguez, and at one point retired 13 Twins in a row. The offense tacked on three more insurance runs in the 4th, 5th, and 7th innings and David Robertson and Cory Wade allowed just one Twin to reach base between them while recording the game’s final five outs as the Yankees rebounded from a disappointing loss Monday night to even this four game series at 1-1.
C.C. Sabathia: Sabathia finally settled in and looked the pitcher we all know and love, especially after the 3rd inning. He pitched into the 8th inning in this, recording the first out of the frame before Joe Girardi decided to remove him after 112 total pitches. His final line: 7.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. It wasn’t his most dominant outing, but it was pretty darn good, and it’s hard to complain about 7+ innings of three run ball from your ace in the season’s first two weeks.
Brett Gardner:Brett the Jet had a big night in all aspects of the game, going 2-2 with two doubles, three runs scored, and two walks. He also stole second after one of the walks for good measure, and made a tremendous sliding catch to rob Josh Willingham of a hit and end the third inning.
Chris Stewart: The Yankees’ new light hitting backup catcher had one of the best games of his career, collecting three RBI on a couple of singles. It was the first three RBI game of his career.
Cory Wade: Wade has been pitching quite well in middle relief situations to open the season, but he had his first real hiccup in Monday night’s loss. Nevertheless, Joe Girardi called on him the very next night to put the game to bed in the 9th, and Wade responded with a perfect inning, including a strikeout of Trevor Plouffe to end the game. That’s a nice way to bounce back.
Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod was 0-4 with a strikeout in this one, and also made an error in the field when a ball got through him at third base.
Umpires: I’ve seen a lot of petty displays from umpires in my day, but Greg Gibson’s antics in the third inning are right up there with the best of them. Denard Span was (rightly) peeved about a bad strike call to open the at bat, and was chirping about it to the umpire. Gibson decided to respond by stopping the game to toss Span just as he was digging in for the next pitch, showing the player up about as much as he possibly could. For all of the talk about how players and managers need to show respect for umpires to protect the integrity of the game, it was without question the umpire who caused a scene tonight. I didn’t even really notice Span jawing all that much at first, but the spat was front and center after Gibson decided to give the paying customers what they came to see. Just awful.
The Yankees will look to keep the offense rolling when they hook up with the Twins in the penultimate game of this series. Hiroki Kuroda will be on the mound for the Bombers, and I expect he’ll get a rather nice reception in his second Yankee Stadium start. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 P.M.