CC Sabathia looked like his old self through the final four innings tonight. He ended the fifth, sixth and seventh innings on strikeouts, and had his finest moment when he struck out Luke Scott to strand the bases loaded in the seventh.
“He just seems to be a little off,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s just missing by a little bit. Tonight he seemed to find it, and that’s real positive for us.”
Sabathia said his changeup was much better tonight, and his slider was a very real weapon (especially in that Scott at-bat). After some two-out hits cost him in the early innings, Sabathia seemed to settle into a rhythm later in the game.
Sabathia, of course, was understated about the whole thing. He said he was “just trying to make some pitches” and that he needs to pitch to contact more often, but he did seem to find something extra in those last few innings.
“It’s important that you’re able to fight through it when you don’t have your A stuff,” Girardi said. “And I thought CC got better as the night went on. I looked up at one point and he had 15 balls and 15 strikes, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that from CC. He found a way to get it done, and to me that’s the mark of a very good pitcher.”
Sabathia honestly didn’t have much to say after the game, so here’s Girardi’s postgame session.
• How bad is it to be an Orioles fan right now? Tonight the O’s had the lead for five innings, the longest they have held a lead since May 25. They are 1-12 since. Yikes.
• Brett Gardner said he believes he’ll get an MRI when the Yankees get back to New York on Friday, but that’s primarily to make sure there’s nothing going on that the x-ray didn’t pick up. When he stole second tonight, Gardner slid into the bag with his left hand and “didn’t feel it at all.”
• Girardi did say Gardner is strictly a pinch runner right now. He said before the game that Gardner could be used for defense, but Gardner can’t throw, so he’ll strictly run for now.
• Robinson Cano is 9-for-12 since Sunday. Three straight three-hit games. “You have to be able to not chase pitches,” he said. “Just wait for my pitch and make a good swing.”
• Great play by Cano to hold Nick Markakis to a single in the seventh inning, and a great diving play by Kevin Russo to take away a double in the eighth. Girardi called Russo’s catch one of the keys to the game. “That’s what I’m out there for is to contribute to the team however I can,” Russo said. “Whether it’s on offense, defense, whatever. That’s what I’m out there to do and I’m glad I could contribute.”
• The Yankees have won 10 in a row against Baltimore.
• Change of plans for Orioles. Instead of Jeremy Guthrie starting tomorrow’s series finale, Jake Arrieta will make his major league debut. He was a fifth-round draft pick in 2007 and had a 1.85 ERA through 12 games with Triple-A Norfolk.
• Bad stat for the Yankees: They were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Cano and Francisco Cervelli had the only RBI hits of the night.
• Speaking of Cervelli, Sabathia said he was basically just throwing whatever Cervelli called from the third inning on.
• Reggie Jackson has been in town for this series.
• When Mark Teixeira reached first on an error in the sixth inning… that call has been changed to a hit. That makes him 2-for-5 for the night.
• Jose Tabata singled in his first big league at-bat tonight for the Pirates. He finished the game 2-for-4 with a run. Tyler Clippard pitched a hitless inning for Washington in that game.
Associated Press photos of the Yankees outfield (Russo, Swisher and Granderson), Jeter and Cano.