I wrote about how the starting rotation has been a constant cycle of turnover and drama the other day, and that cycle kept turning last night as CC Sabathia made his return from the DL. But quality of starting pitching doesn't really matter if you don't hit and don't play defense and the Yankees didn't do either of those things last night. That's why they lost another easily winnable game against the Orioles and why they took a series loss against those lowly Orioles instead of a sweep.
I thought Sabathia looked pretty good last night. He was throwing his fastball in the low 90s, his offspeed stuff had good movement, and he was generally locating pitches where he wanted to. He got charged with an earned run in the top of the 1st when Stephen Drew flubbed a potential double play ball and only got 1 out, Didi Gregorius failed to check and go after the lead runner from second thus allowing him to move to third, and Carlos Beltran let a weak bloop fly ball land in front of him for a single. It was collectively pathetic and CC got dinged for the run and about 10 more pitches in the inning.
He got burned by the bad defense again in the top of the 5th, although to be fair CC does bear some of that burden by hitting Chris Davis with 1-2 pitch the at-bat after striking out Manny Machado for the second out in the inning. That ended his night and brought on Adam Warren for some long relief/starter stretch out work. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, Warren got Jonathan Schoop to hit an inning-ending ground ball to Chase Headley. Headley made a bad throw to second, forcing Stephen Drew to go low to make the catch and Drew couldn't make it. The ball trickled away from him, allowing 2 runs to score and tie the game. All of Carlos Beltran's work to give CC a lead was wasted.
I specify that it was Beltran's work and not the whole lineup's because the rest of the lineup really didn't have much to do with the scoring last night. Beltran popped an opposite field solo home run to left in the bottom of the 1st to get that run back and tie the game at 1. In the bottom of the 3rd, Didi got hit by a pitch to lead off and Drew singled to set up the top of the order. Ellsbury and Headley made outs, but Beltran picked them up by stroking a 2-run single up the middle to put the Yankees ahead 3-1.
After that inning, the Yankees did a whole lot of nothing with the bats. Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez retired 12 straight batters after the Beltran single and held the Yankees at 3 through the 7th. He was in position for the win after Warren, still in the game on stretch out duty, served up a brutal 2-2 meatball to Steve Pearce that Pearce hit out for the go-ahead home run. Had him 0-2, couldn't put him away, threw a curveball that spun over the middle. Not good. Nick Rumbelow and Bryan Mitchell added fuel to that fire with 2 walks and a ground-rule double in the 9th, and the already quiet Yankee bats stayed mute in the 8th and 9th.
Ugly defense, no hitting, questionable managerial decision making, and poor late-game relief work. About the only positive part of this game was Sabathia's performance. Who would have expected that? Not the right time to stumble at home, and now the Yankees need to gather it back up with the Blue Jays coming to town for a 4-game weekend set.
- Sabathia's line doesn't look that great: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 5 K. But I actually thought this was a night when he really did pitch a lot better than his line indicated. One of the hits should have been caught (Beltran's bloop), 2 more of them were not well struck, and he fell victim to a couple of close calls in a couple of the walk ABs. He worked well inside with his fastball, he threw a lot of good curveballs and sliders, and he mixed in a few good changeups when he needed to. The time off definitely looked like it helped him.
- Beltran: 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Rest of the lineup: 2-27, 1 2B, 2 R, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 9 K. Putrid.
- There was question as to why Joe didn't go to Dellin Betances in the 8th with Warren hitting his previously set 45-pitch limit. Joe said he wanted to make sure he got 2 straight days of rest. OK, whatever. Not the move I would have made, but if it means he uses Dellin in 3 of the 4 games this weekend and they win a couple of them, I can live with it.
- Brett Gardner pinch hit for Drew in the bottom of the 8th, his first game action since Sunday. He grounded out to second and it sounds like he'll be back in the lineup tonight.
- A-Rod went 0-4 with 3 Ks. Ouch.
- With Warren getting used last night, the plan to have him start this weekend is out the window. Now the Yankees will pitch Tanaka on Sunday on regular rest. Good. I'd rather have that.