The bombers took an early lead on Mets ace RA Dickey when Mark Teixeira started the third inning by knocking Curtis Granderson in from third with a sacrifice fly; Nick Swisher followed a few batters later by blasting a hanging knuckler 423 feet into center field, scoring Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. Dickey didn’t look sharp on the night, as he allowed five earned runs on five hits and three walks, with only three strikeouts. His stuff seemed to be off for most of the outing, his knuckler missing the zone a bit too much, and his non-knuckle pitches lacking the bite that had distinguished them in previous outings; he hit Curtis Granderson–who would come around to score–in the fifth inning, and threw a ball over A-Rod’s head earlier in the game.
On the other side of the hill, so to speak, Sabathia didn’t look hugely better: the big lefty gave up five runs (one earned) on nine hits and two walks, compared with three strikeouts, though he was victimized by his team’s horrendous defense various times. He struggled through his first five innings, but managed to lock the Mets down when it mattered, most of the time. In the sixth inning, after the offense managed to open up a 4-0, then a 5-2 lead on Dickey, CC promptly gave up two runs and loaded the bases–though admittedly a good chunk of the blame for that inning has to fall on Mark Teixeira, whose mis-play on an Andres Torres grounder allowed two runs to score. Cory Wade, who relieved Sabathia, immediately allowed a game-tying single to Ruben Tejada, but managed to stop the bleeding by striking out pinch-hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis (who, incidentally, has a name that is at once impossible to spell, and very easy to say…NEW-en-HISE).
Teixeira’s error in the sixth actually brings up the dominant theme of tonight’s Subway Series-ending clash: sloppiness. The Yankee defense looked befuddled at times by the ground in Citi Field, mis-reading balls, struggling with grounders, and generally getting bad jumps. The poster-boy for this narrative is Chris Stewart, Sabathia’s personal catcher: Stewart had an atrocious night, going 0-4 with a strikeout and making two costly errors in the process. In the bottom of the first, he over-threw second base on a David Wright steal attempt; he repeated the error in the third, a play that ended with the runner, Andres Torres, scoring on a sacrifice fly. The Mets had their own problems on the night, as both RA Dickey (understandable–he’s a knuckleballer by trade) and Ruben Tejada (less acceptable) threw away balls to first; Tejada’s error allowed Teixiera to score in the fifth inning.
Ultimately, though, the game was decided by the bombers’ bats: Swisher’s homer in the third provided the opening punch, and Robinson Cano’s similar-looking solo blast in the eighth provided the final margin of victory. Too much has already been written about the Yankees’ ability to score runs via long balls (and “inability” to score otherwise), so I won’t go into it here–suffice to say that anyone who says that hitting home runs is bad is pretty much a moron and should be disregarded (read William’s article if you’re interested in hearing more about this). In fact, tonight it was the Mets, not the Yankees, who couldn’t come through with runners on: they stranded 10 runners to the Yanks 5, while going 3-9 with RISP (the bombers were 3-8).
It wasn’t a pitchers duel, and it wasn’t a particularly pretty ballgame–and yes, I did almost throw my bottle of beer at the TV a few hundred times (hello, Cory Wade)–but it was a win, and an important one for the Yankees. The bombers will take on the Indians in Yankee Stadium tomorrow in the first tilt of a three game set.
Tip o’ the hat
Raul Ibanez: He seemingly was always on base, getting hits almost every time he came up against Dickey (he was 3-4 on the night). The Yankees have gotten much more than they expected out of his bat…and about what you could expect out of his glove.
Nick Swisher: The three-run bomb with two outs seemed to take some of the mystique off the knuckler for the Yanks. Great night for Swish overall.
Wag o’ the finger
Chris Stewart: Rough game for Chris tonight. We’ll see if he can rebound in Sabathia’s next start.
Derek Jeter: Tonight’s 0-5 with a strikeout dropped his season averaged to a still-respectable .305…but it’s a far cry from earlier this year.