On a night like this, there’s a lot to be said for CC Sabathia — for the things he’s expected to do and the things he’s able to do. Tonight it was his changeup that betrayed him. It was too hard, cutting too far over the plate, and that’s the pitch both Andruw Jones and Paul Konerko hit for home runs.
But when he came off the mound after the fourth inning, having just surrendered the two-run shot that pulled the White Sox within 6-5, Jorge Posada had a message for him.
“Sado came in and said, ‘We’ve still got the lead, so let’s just go out there and work with that,’” Sabathia said.
Of his final 12 outs, seven came on strikes. He kept mixing in the changeup occasionally, but also started working his two-seamer inside and throwing more breaking balls early in the count. Sabathia said he was trying to grind through, trying to find a way to keep the score where it was. Joe Girardi said he was being an ace, through and through.
“I really believed he would settle in,” Girardi said. “CC has the ability to do that. If he gives up a couple of runs, he has the ability to shut it down, and that’s exactly what he did… That’s what aces are able to do, and that’s why they win so many games.”
Aces win games, and Sabathia is the only pitcher in the big leagues who’s won 18 of them.
Here’s Sabathia’s postgame.
• When Eduardo Nunez got to his locker, he was given three baseballs: The one he hit for his first career home run, and two brand new, shiny white baseballs that would be the ransom. The guy who caught the homer wanted an autograph from Nunez, and an autograph from Derek Jeter. Just like happened with Colin Curtis, it was up to Nunez to ask Jeter to help him out. After some ribbing, Nunez said, the Captain obliged.
• Nick Swisher has homered in back-to-back games and continues to play well against his old team. “Sometimes you matchup good against teams too, but Swish is a competitor and I think he wants to do well all the time,” Girardi said. “I think he gets excited when he comes here.”
• Not a good day for the bullpen, but it’s hard to get too down on Joba Chamberlain and Dave Robertson. They’ve pitched pretty well lately and picked a good night to have a rough one. Between them, those two got one out and allowed four runs on five hits.
• Mariano Rivera got his 26th save, and started his night with a double play that loomed large when the next two batters walked and singled. “It looks real big now,” Girardi said.
• Mark Teixeira’s bruise isn’t exactly on the thumb. It’s in that meaty part of the palm, right next to the thumb. If you fold your index finger into your palm, the place where the fingertip goes is where the bruise is. Does that make sense?
• It seemed pretty obvious, but Austin Kearns said he did in fact lose that eighth-inning ball in the lights. It went for a triple. That was a big part of Robertson’s rough night.
• I’ll give the last word to Thames: “It was a great team effort. Last night was ugly from the start. It didn’t look good, and tonight we came out and played baseball.”
Associated Press photos of Sabathia and Nunez