I think I said in the recap of his last good start that we had gotten to the point where you just have to appreciate the good starts from CC Sabathia when he has them because there aren't a lot of them anymore. Last night was one of those good starts. It was vintage Sabathia in the series finale against the Red Sox as he pitched to the little run support that he got and led his club to another series victory.
Whatever CC did between starts, it helped bring something out of him because he was dealing last night. He came out firing fastballs in the low-mid 90s and he really had good command of his stuff, arguably better than we've seen at any point this season. He struck out 4 and allowed only 2 baserunners, both of them coming in the 2nd inning, in 4 scoreless and seemed to be pitching with the kind of swagger we used to see from his years ago.
Boston's rookie lefty Eduardo Rodriguez matched CC's zeros through 2 innings, then fell victim to the always-dangerous top of the order in the 3rd. Brett Gardner singled with 2 outs and came around to score from first on Alex Rodriguez's double to the left field wall to make it 1-0 Yankees. That was all they would get off Rodriguez, however, and they had themselves to blame for it thanks to an all-around ugly bottom of the 5th.
Brendan Ryan and Jacoby Ellsbury each singled to start the inning. Rally City, here we come! Gardner stepped in with 2 on and nobody out and... Joe put on the bunt. Because Brett Gardner isn't one of the best hitters on the team having a career best offensive season or anything like that. But Joe wanted to play for 1, so Gardner sacrificed the runners over for A-Rod. The Red Sox, realizing the advantage they had been given, walked A-Rod to load the bases and create a double play opportunity. The Yanks didn't hit into a double play, but Mark Teixeira popped out to the catcher and Chris Young popped out to short. Let Gardner swing there and it could have been the big inning to put the game away. Instead Joe played for 1 and got nothing. Stupid.
What made that inning even worse was that it came after the Red Sox got to CC in the top half. He got 2 strikeouts around a Ryan Hanigan single and looked like he had everything under control. Then Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a walk (unforgivable), Rusney Castillo singled, and the Sox had tied the game. It was a situation that begged for a reliever, especially after CC walked Xander Bogaerts to load the bases. But CC struck out David Ortiz to end the inning, and in another call back to his prime days let out a monstrous celebratory bellow as he came off the mound.
The lineup couldn't put much together after the botched 5th inning, but they got what they needed on one swing in the 7th. Ellsbury came up with 1 out to face Rodriguez for a fourth time and that fourth time was a charm. Rodriguez left a 2-1 hanger over the middle third of the plate and Ellsbury turned on it and parked it in the second deck of right field. It was his second hit of the night, his second homer in 4 games, and it gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish,
After Justin Wilson struck out the side in the top of the 7th, Joe went to his 1-2 punch to close it out. Dellin Betances froze Mike Napoli for strike 3 to work around a 2-out single in a scoreless 8th, and Andrew Miller wiggled around some 2-out trouble of his own with a strikeout of Castillo to end things. It wasn't a blowout, but they all count the same in the W-L column.
- The Yanks haven't lost a series since early July. How about that?
- Sabathia's line: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K. He got 12 swings and misses, 6 outs on the ground, and his 67 game score was a new season high. As for the celebration in Ortiz's face after K'ing him to end the 5th? I loved it. I absolutely loved it. Of course I'm a homer for saying that, but I don't care. Ortiz's HR stuff doesn't bother me either, but if you're going to dish it out you better be ready to take it. That was a big moment in the game and CC was juiced up. Good for him for showing that kind of emotion. I want to see that every time he takes the mound if it's coming with that kind of performance. Vintage CC is the best CC.
- Joe's managing slump continues. The decision to stick with CC in the 5th wasn't the right one based on what he's shown over the whole season, regardless of the eventual results, and the bunt call with Gardner was awful. It's almost like Joe is feeling the pressure of being back atop the division and heading into a playoff race more than the players are. Relax, dude. Let your players play.
- Night night for Ellsbury. 2 hits, the game-winning homer. Looked good on that swing too. I told you he was fine.
- 2-hit night for A-Rod as well. The 4-9 hitters combined to go 1-19 with a BB and 2 K.
- How about Wilson's outing after the mid-AB yank the other night. Faced 3 right-handed batters in the inning, struck all 3 of them out.