From one starter who struggles to get through 6 to another who struggles to get through 6 without getting shelled, the Yankees were on the wrong side of the odds again heading into last night's game. But their luck changed quickly after a discouraging start and they held on late to even the series.
That discouragement came thanks to the Ace Formerly Known as CC Sabathia, who gave up 2 runs on 5 hits before he recorded his 5th out of the game. Almost all the contact generated off him was extremely hard and it took a little luck for him to get out of the 1st inning unscathed. Roth was out to talk to him and Joe had Bryan Mitchell up in the 'pen for him in the 2nd, so that's a sign of how little leash CC has left these days. Hard to say he hasn't earned it.
But the big guy managed to get it together long enough to stop the bleeding in the 2nd, and once he did that he actually settled in and gave his team a decent start, by his present day low standards that is. He worked around a walk in the 4th and 2 men on in the 5th, and was lifted for Mitchell after getting a groundout and giving up his final hit of the night in the 6th. Considering the way things started, 2 earned runs in 5.1 innings is plenty good from Sabathia.
And the Yankee offense made it work. They got their first run in the bottom of the 2nd when Chris Young reached on a Brett Lawrie error and scored on a Didi Gregorius double. They caught a break when Oakland starter Scott Kazmir left the game between the 3rd and 4th innings with triceps tightness, and then rudely welcomed Evan Scribner to the game with a Mark Teixeira solo shot. They weren't done with Scribner either. Young walked, JRM singled, they both advanced to scoring position on a stolen base and a wild pitch, and Jose Pirela brought Young home with a go-ahead sac fly.
Teix tacked on the first insurance run in the 6th, when he led off the inning against Scribner again and took him yard, again. Everyone's favorite second baseman Stephen Drew provided the second in the bottom of the 8th when he popped a solo shot of his own. Blame Mike Axisa for that one. Drew's run actually proved to be huge when Andrew Miller grooved a 3-2 fastball to Marcus Semien in the 9th. Semien clubbed it for a 2-run homer to bring Oakland within 1, but Miller recovered and locked down the win. What can you say, Drew is just a clutch player.
- Total line on CC: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 0 HR, 88 pitches, 59 strikes. Not a lot to really get jazzed about there, except for the goose egg in the home run column. The single strikeout is a season low and Sabathia only got 4 whiffs on his 59 strikes. He also told the media that he got his right knee drained between starts, which explains why he was pushed back. That's either really good or really bad news, depending on how you want to look at it.
- 1-4 night for Jacoby Ellsbury in his first game back at the top of the lineup. No physical issues reported postgame from running the bases or playing the outfield. That's unquestionably good news.
- Miller got hit for the 2 runs on 2 hits in his first inning back and needed 30 pitches to close it out, but I thought he looked alright. Definitely a little rusty on that Semien at-bat though. Had him down 0-2, couldn't put him away, and threw a meatball fastball in the 8th pitch of the at-bat. No worries, he'll shake it off.
- Teix was the obvious player of the game on both sides of the field. 2-3 with the 2 solo HRs and a walk, and he made a handful of great defensive plays at first base. He hit 22 home runs in 123 games and 508 plate appearances last year. He's hit 22 in 78 games and 326 PA this year.
- JRM was the only other player with more than 1 hit. Young scored 2 runs and Brett Gardner drew 2 walks.
- Rock solid middle relief work by the non-Sabathia-and-Miller pitchers. Mitchell got out of the 6th, Justin Wilson pitched a perfect 7th, and Dellin Betances worked a 1-2-3 8th with 2 strikeouts. Nice bounce back outing for him. I imagine he won't be available this afternoon.