Freakin' A-Rod, man. He is just the best. He picked the perfect time break out of his recent slump last night, pummeling a go-ahead grand slam late in the game to pull the Yankees out of the jaws of defeat and propel them to what became a comfortable victory.
That slump was still fully engaged for his first 3 at-bats of the night. Alex made outs with runners on base in the 1st and 3rd innings, and popped out to second base to lead off the 6th. He was arguably the most stagnant part of a very stagnant offense over the first 6 innings. About the best thing they did was make Minnesota starter Mike Pelfrey work hard and throw a lot of pitches to get through 5.1 innings. The lone run they generated came on a Carlos Beltran double and Greg Bird RBI single in the 4th.
CC Sabathia was back on the mound after his little Toronto nightclub whatever thing, and he looked like the CC of old for most of the night. He was firing low-90s heat again and locating it down in the zone for called strikes and a lot of weak contact. He was perfect through 4 innings and sat down the first 13 Twins he faced before issuing a 1-out walk in the top of the 5th. That came back to bite him when Minnesota managed 2 consecutive 2-out hits to score a run, but overall CC was very good through 6.
He hit the wall in the 7th, and with an overworked bullpen Joe made the call to stick with him after he walked Joe Mauer to start the inning. He hung a first-pitch changeup to Miguel Sano on the next pitch and Sano hit it for a 2-run home run to put Minnesota up 3-1. Two more singles and that was it for CC after 6.2. He gave the Yankees everything he had and his outing really came down to 1 pitch changing things from great to pretty good. The crowd gave him a big hand when he came off the mound and it was well deserved.
Turns out the only thing the Yankee offense needed to do against Pelfrey was get him out of the game. Once he was gone in the 6th, it was all over. A Chase Headley single and a pair of walks by Ryan O'Rourke loaded the bases for A-Rod, and Paul Molitor elected to go with righty J.R. Graham to face him. Graham threw a first-pitch silder for ball 1 and then tried to get a fastball down the middle for a called strike. A-Rod was looking fastball all the way and he didn't take it for a called strike, oh no. He smacked it out to center field for the aforementioned grand slam to put the Yanks ahead 5-4. You could almost hear the screams of emotional pain inside the Twins' hearts on TV and see the air leaving their bodies.
The Twins rolling over and dying led to 3 more Yankee runs in the 8th to put the game away. Bird started things off with a single, Didi Gregorius followed up with one, and Chase Headley doubled them both home. After a Brendan Ryan sac bunt, Jacoby Ellsbury kept his hot streak going with a ribbie single to right for the 8-4 lead.
This made life easy for Andrew Miller, who came on with 2 outs in the 8th to face Sano. He struck him out to end that potential threat, then cruised through the 9th on 11 pitches. It really wouldn't surprise me if the Twins just forfeited today and didn't show up. That's how bad the Yankees crushed them in the final 2.5 innings.
- 6.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K doesn't look like much of a line from Sabathia, but this truly was one of the instances where he pitched much better than his line indicated. Extra rest seems to do him well, and he's still tough when he can locate his fastball. He got 11 swinging strikes last night and was cruising into the 6th. He wasn't even on the mound for the fourth run. Just some real bad timing and luck on a night where CC dialed it back to 2011-2012.
- Lights out performance by Miller in picking up the 4-out save. He won't be available this afternoon, but he really didn't work too hard last night and he looks much better than he did a week or 2 ago. Fastball command is back and the feel for his slider seems to be much better and more consistent, like it was earlier in the year.
- 2-hit nights for Ellsbury and Beltran, who will not stop hitting, and Headley, who came in as a pinch hitter for Stephen Drew (great move, Joe).
- Also a 2-hit night for Greg Bird, the first multi-hit game of his career to go along with the first RBI of his career. He ain't Teix, but if he can hit enough he can make it a helluva lot easier for the team to get by without Teix for a little while.