Pitching: LHP CC Sabathia (19-7, 3.21)
Pitching: LHP David Price (9-7, 4.60)
TIME/TV: 7:38, YES.
WEATHER: Mostly quiet with partly-scattered loudness caused by cowbells in the area. (It’s a dome).
STATE OF THE STRIPES: The Yankees are in cruise control mode, with nothing left to play for in terms of team goals: They’ve clinched the division, clinched the best record and are just waiting to see who they play in the first round. The most important thing for them to do this weekend is stay healthy.
THE BIG 2-0: Tonight’s game does have one interesting plot as CC Sabathia tries to become the first pitcher in the majors to reach 20 wins this season (oddly, Adam Wainwright is also going for it tonight with the Cardinals). Sabathia won 19 games in 2007, but never had a shot at 20 that year because his 19th came in the final start. This time, he gets one crack at it, though he hasn’t had great success against the Rays this season: 0-1, 4.35 ERA in three starts this year.
ACE OF CLUB(S): How good has Sabathia been lately? He’s 9-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his last 11 starts. Whatever happens tonight, Joe Girardi has already named Sabathia his Game 1 starter in the playoffs.
CAPTAIN QUICK START: Derek Jeter hit a leadoff home run on Wednesday, and that was the 10th time in his last 16 games that he’s led off the Yankees half of the first inning with a hit. He’s done it a major-league most 52 times in 2009.
RAYS OF LIGHT: It isn’t the World Series run they had a year ago, but the Rays will finish with only the second winning record in franchise history. Considering the injuries they had this season, it’s an impressive feat by manager Joe Maddon. Look for the Rays to be players in the AL East for a while.
WPTY UPDATE: In the Who-Plays-The-Yankees race, Detroit sends Edwin Jackson (13-8, 3.36) against Chicago’s Jake Peavy (8-6, 3.75), while the Twins pitch Jeff Manship (0-1, 5.81) against Kansas City’s Lenny DiNardo (0-2, 7.52).
IF THERE WAS WALK-TO-THE-PLATE MUSIC IN REAL LIFE, TODAY’S WOULD BE: Thriller by Michael Jackson.
FYI, tech guys added the headshots to the post so that when Chad starts posting, you’ll be able to easily tell which one of us deserves the hate mail. For tonight, Josh will be back with much, much more later on.
UPDATE, 6:02 p.m.: I’ve uploaded audio from Girardi’s session with the media. There’s a lot in there, including an explanation (in two parts) of why the mighty Jose Molina will DH tonight and what it could (or could not) mean for the postseason.
UPDATE, 7:44 p.m.: Wow. Tex gets plunked with a sizzling heater right on top of his left shoulder. And this is why even these last few games can be scary. Both Girardi and Teixeira looked spooked.
UPDATE, 7:59 p.m.: Down here on the Rays’ TV station it just read: “A.J. Burnett: 25 pitches this inning.” Um, no.
UPDATE, 8:02 p.m.: That’s a turf triple there for Upton. The ball appeared to catch Swisher off-guard with how quickly it skipped through the gap.
UPDATE, 8:04 p.m.: During a 33-pitch first, Girardi had Edwar Ramirez up in the pen. And truthfully you have to wonder how long they stay with Sabathia after allowing four quick runs.
I bet it depends on how much life the Yankees show offensively. If No. 20 comes back into play — and relatively early in the game — CC will stay out there. Three times this afternoon Girardi said this was “an important game.”
UPDATE, 8:31 p.m.: That error in the first by Teixeira was his first since Sept. 1 at Baltimore, per Erik Boland from Newsday.
UPDATE, 8:34 p.m.: No, they are not all earned, but Sabathia hasn’t allowed five runs in a game since Aug. 2. And, yes, we’re still in the second inning.
UPDATE, 9:05 p.m.: Sheesh. Not good.
Sabathia allowed nine runs (five earned) on 82 pitches. Here’s his final line: 2.2 9 5 8 5 3. The most troubling part? Try 13 baserunners and just eight outs. Ugly.
So he doesn’t win No. 20, but are you concerned or do you just chalk it up to a bad start? I’m not sure. The nine runs tied a career worst and the Rays squared up many a line drive. That said, next Wednesday (or whenever the ALDS starts) will be a different animal entirely.
Either way it appears CC may draw Edwin Jackson rather than Justin Verlander. With Minnesota way up and Detroit way down, the AL Central race will be slashed to a one-game lead.
UPDATE, 9:23 p.m.: Here’s a link to the story about that valiant war horse, Carl Pavano.
UPDATE, 9:32 p.m.: Girardi said he wanted to pitch David Robertson tonight and Sunday. They like how he has looked so far. No health issues to speak of in his right elbow.
UPDATE, 9:45 p.m.: That’s the cycle for B.J. Upton, who makes Rays history as the first player to ever hit for the cycle. His six RBI are a career high.
All 27 Rays fans in the house cheered loudly. They should’ve asked where that was all season from a guy with superstar potential batting .241 with a meaty .685 OPS.
UPDATE, 9:53 p.m.: Ah, meaningless baseball. The Yanks just moved Hinske to 3B and Hairston to 2B. In the game now are the following: Bruney (RP), Miranda (1B), Pena (SS), Guzman (LF), Gardner (CF) and Duncan (RF).
Oddly enough, Posada remains behind the plate and Rivera is warming in the pen.
UPDATE, 10:20 p.m.: And it’s a hit for DH Jose Molina. All that guy does is hit.
UPDATE, 10:45 p.m.: Considering the stakes (none), this was a mildly unsettling loss for the Yanks. Check Twitter for updates on Teixeira, etc.
This is the Yankees first loss with CC on the hill since July 28. Wow.