There it is! Now was that so hard? The Yankees finally got to the 10,000 win plateau last night, beating the Red Sox 4-1 to salvage a game from this series and knock their AL Wild Card magic number down to 0. The Yankees are going back to the postseason for the first time since 2012, and just like in 2012 they've got CC Sabathia to thank for it.
Sabathia took the ball last night and turned in another callback CC start. It wasn't the CC of 2012 or 2009 who could go for 7-8 innings and 125 pitches, but it was a good enough approximation and a reminder that this guy can still get it done. CC put a man on in every inning and worked out of almost every jam. He got Xander Bogaerts to ground into an inning-ending double play with 2 on and 1 out in the 3rd. He got another double play to eliminate Travis Shaw's leadoff single in the 4th. After 3 singles in 4 batters put the Sox on the board and within 1 in the 5th, he knuckled down and got a groundout from Jackie Bradley Jr. and a flyout from Shaw to end the threat. CC didn't have much left in those final few pitches, so he definitely emptied the tank. It was good for 5 innings of 1-run ball and that's about the best Joe could have asked for.
CC did leave with the lead thanks to a 2-run bottom of the 2nd. It started with Carlos Beltran's solo home run, his 19th of the season, and ended with Brendan Ryan singling to left to score a run. In between, John Ryan Murphy and DIdi Gregorius drew walks. Gotta love when the bottom of the order makes a rally go.
Outside of that inning, the Yanks didn't do much against Rich Hill over his 6 innings. He ended his night by striking out the side in the 6th. Boston went to Jean Machi in the 7th and that move came back to hurt them almost immediately. Murphy grounded out to start the inning, which brought up Greg Bird. Facing a right for the first time on the night, Bird saw 5 changeups from Machi in the at-bat. He connected on the fifth one for a solo home run to put the Yankees ahead 3-1. A Rob Refsnyder home run to lead off the 8th made it 4-1 and put the Yankees on the brink of clinching.
There would be no bullpen meltdown this time. Adam Warren, in the "sneaky most valuable player of the game" role, pitched 3 big shutout innings in relief of CC to eliminate the B and C-squads from the equation. He struck out 3, threw 51 pitches, and laid out the save for Dellin Betances. Dellin set the Sox down swinging, popping out, and swinging and the celebration was on. The Yankees are back in the playoffs. Tuesday is going to be fun.
- Sabathia's line: 5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. Give us everything you got, big man. We'll take it.
- Bird hitting .255/.337/.530 with 11 HR and 30 RBI in 169 PA. Dude can play.
- Refsnyder's home run came off someone named Heath Hembry, who's a right-hander. Notable.
- Betances was still a little bit of an adventure with his fastball in the 9th, but the command looked better than it has. He threw a few for called strikes. I'm taking that as a positive sign.
- Murphy didn't hit, but he drew 2 walks and played another great game behind the plate. Still say it's funny how he always seems to bring the best out of the pitching staff.
- The Wild Card game is 4 days away and the Yankees still haven't clinched homefield advantage for that game. They can do that with another win or another Astros loss.
(Photos courtesy of the AP and Getty Images)