CC Sabathia was obviously the story of the day, but there was a lot happening this afternoon in St. Petersburg: The Yankees were scoring 10 runs, their defense was making huge plays and their 24-year-old catcher was earning his stripes.
Francisco Cervelli never had the kind of prospect status of Jesus Montero or Austin Romine, but he’s always been terrific behind the plate, and this afternoon he helped guide Sabathia within four outs of a no-hitter. Had Sabathia come out of the game with the no-hitter intact, Joe Girardi might have had a harder time breaking the news to his catcher.
“I think I would have had to calm him down more than CC,” Girardi said. “He was really into it, which is great to see. I think it gives a young catcher a lot of confidence. I think when Jorge caught David Wells’ perfect game it’s just, wow. It gives you a sense of confidence back there. You know what you’re doing, and you have a plan and you’re able to follow the plan.”
Cervelli called Sabathia’s outing “perfect” but downplayed his own two-run double.
“That’s my job here to catch and be good with the pitchers,” Cervelli said. “When I’m hitting I concentrate on my offense, but the first thing for me is catch, catch, catch and catch.”
On offense and on defense, the Yankees were terrific, and much of that spotlight belonged to their big first baseman. Mark Teixeira made a no-hitter-saving catch in the sixth inning. He also finished 3-for-4 with his first three hits of the season.
“During your career you always aim for milestones,” Teixeira said. “So I made sure I went 0-for-17 to have a personal best. After that I wanted to make sure I got a few hits.”
Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner each had two hits. The top six Yankees hitters scored a run. The bottom three combined for five hits, four RBI, two runs and two stolen bases.
As for the defense, Robinson Cano made a nice charging play in the eighth inning — when the no-hitter was still on the line — and Alex Rodriguez made two great plays at third, one to get Evan Longoria out and the other to nab B.J. Upton and keep Sabathia on track.
“Alex’s play was incredible,” Teixeira said. “That was one of the best plays your going to see all year. When you make a few plays like that, and the way CC was throwing the ball, you thought it could happen.”
• Girardi on the eighth-inning play when Sabathia tried to catch the ball with his bare hand: “He bare-hands every ball from Alex, but I would prefer that he doesn’t bare-hand them from hitters. He has some pretty big mitts though.”
• Give some credit to Dave Robertson: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.
• Brett Gardner has started three games and has three stolen bases.
• Teixeira is friends with Kelly Shoppach and Shoppach caught Sabathia while the two were in the Cleveland organization: “That was the first thing I thought of,” Teixeira siad. “He just messed up his buddy’s no hitter.”
• So far so good for Robinson Cano batting fifth. He hit his second home run today and he’s batting .381 with six RBI.
• Sabathia last threw a no hitter in high school.
• Cervelli said he caught two no-hitters in a week back in Single-A. Both were multiple pitchers.
• Ramiro Pena pinch ran in the ninth, meaning the Yankees have now used every player on the roster except Phil Hughes. Pena and Cervelli were the only position players who hadn’t gotten in a game. Sergio Mitre pitched yesterday and was the last reliever to get in a game.
• Really bad news on Christian Garcia’s elbow. He has a torn ligament.
Those are Associated Press photos of Cervelli talking to Sabathia, of Teixeira getting his first hit and of Rodriguez making the play to get B.J. Upton out in the seventh.