CC Sabathia said he’s been on a run better than this, which really gives some perspective to just how good he was during his short stint with the Brewers. After seven scoreless innings tonight, Sabathia has allowed a total of one run in his past three starts. During those 22.2 innings he’s struck out 33, walked five and extended his personal winning streak to five in a row. He’s also won nine of his past 10.
“Milwaukee is still my best,” he said. “I don’t even know what happened. It was just one of those things… That was two and a half months. This has been three or four starts.”
Fair enough, but lately Sabathia has been flinging fastballs in the upper 90s, and tonight he had a devastating slider. The six times he faced a hitter with a runner in scoring position, he got a strikeout.
“Today was amazing because I got a chance to see the radar gun,” said Curtis Granderson, who could see a radar reading above the third-base dugout. “The one at-bat that stood out a lot was the at-bat against Travis Hafner — I think his second or third at-bat — when (Sabathia) went 97 with a fastball that Hafner had a swing and miss on, and then came back with a hard slider down and away. I was like, that’s just not fair, the fact that you’re able to do those two as effectively as he was able to all night tonight.”
Sabathia’s ERA is down to 2.90 and he’s the first big league pitcher to reach 12 wins. It’s the second straight year that he’s had 12 wins before the all-star break, making him the first Yankees starter to do that since Tommy John in 1979-80.
“It’s as good a run as I’ve seen him have with us,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s been tremendous.”
“I’ve never had six hits in a game,” he said. “It would have been nice to get five.”
Tonight Jeter pulled within four hits of No. 3,000. He’s had two four-hit games this season, so it’s not out of the question that he could do it tomorrow. Thing is, Girardi wants to give Jeter one day off — a full day off, not a DH day — before the all-star break. He doesn’t want his 37-year-old shortstop playing nine days in a row when he’s coming back from a calf injury.
Jeter, of course, wants to play.
“I have not spoken to him about it,” Jeter said. “He usually lets me know (the night before), so I’ll get out of here before I see him.”
• Granderson went deep twice tonight. That gave him 25 home runs for the season, which is one more than he had all last season. It’s five away from his career-high. As he’s always done, Granderson downplayed the surging home run totals. “They’ve just come a little bit quicker than they have in the past,” Granderson said.
• Granderson has four home runs in his past four games, a streak that came immediately after he went 14 games without a homer.
• Granderson said he was never asked to be in the Home Run Derby, but he doesn’t think he should have been picked anyway. The derby isn’t about home runs in a game, it’s about home runs in batting practice, which is why Granderson is picking Robinson Cano to win the thing. “I’ve seen his BP,” Granderson said. “It’s phenomenal.”
• One theory about Sabathia’s increased velocity: It’s finally gotten hot. Sabathia loves pitching in the heat. “I’ve been able to stay loose,” he said. “That’s a big thing for me. In between innings trying to stay loose and make sure I can keep sweating, and I think that’s a big part of my velocity.”
• Girardi was quick to give credit to Brett Gardner during his postgame press conference. That five-run second inning wouldn’t have happened without Gardner breaking up what would have been an inning-ending double play. His slide into second base was actually a pivotal moment in this game. “I got in there a little bit,” Gardner said. “Not like I do against some guys.”
• Jeter said it didn’t bother him that his first hit off the disabled list was dribbler that went for an infield single, but he did enjoy hitting the ball hard on that second-inning double. “I don’t care how I get hits,” Jeter said. “I have no ego whatsoever. It did feel good to hit a ball good. It’s the hardest ball I’ve hit in three weeks.”
• Girardi said he’s still not sure whether Mariano Rivera will be available tomorrow. “He talked about being ready in case of emergency,” Girardi said. “I didn’t know what that emergency would be. When he said he still felt it a little bit, I said, ‘You’re off again today and we’ll see where we are tomorrow.’”
• Brian Gordon made his Scranton/Wilkes-Barre debut tonight and pitched five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. Ivan Nova will make his first Triple-A start of the year on Thursday.
Associated Press photos