The Big Man said he never saw it coming. He never heard A.J. Burnett sneaking up behind him. Never sensed the whipped cream pie coming toward him. Never suspected that such a celebration was in order.
“Why not?” Burnett said. “Did you see what he did?”
It was hard to miss it. CC Sabathia pitched his first complete game shutout since 2009. It was the 12th of his career, and it continued a streak of 23.2 consecutive innings without allowing a run. According to Elias, that’s a career-high.
“It’s CC,” Joe Girardi said. “He is that good.”
Sabathia has been beyond good. In his past six starts he’s 6-0 with a 1.77 ERA. He has 51 strikeouts in those starts. If you want to extend the sample size to make it a little larger, he’s 10-1 with a 2.20 ERA in his past 11 starts. He’s 13-3 with a 2.76 ERA in his past 16 starts, that’s since going winless in his first four outings this year.
Girardi gave credit to Sabathia’s slider. Sabathia said it “definitely” starts with his fastball. Mariano Rivera was getting loose in the ninth inning, and Girardi said he was planning to go to his closer if an at-bat got long. Sabathia said it would have been interesting to see his manager pry the ball out of his fingers.
“Larry (Rothschild) came down and asked me, was I alright,” Sabathia said. “He said, ‘would you tell me if you weren’t,’ and I said ‘no.’ So he would have had to come get it from me.”
One day after Derek Jeter had five hits of his own, the Yankees had a total of just four hits today. They were all singles, and they scored their only run because of bad throws, bad baserunning and good luck. Sabathia was their only real bright spot, and he gave them a walk-off style performance.
“It just makes you feel really good about the first half,” Girardi said. “We had lost a series in Cleveland and we had been on a roll of late, and just to be able to win these type of games, we win one yesterday 5-4 and win on 1-0 on a brilliant performance by CC, it’s a lift and it makes you feel good going into the all-star break.”
• Dr. Lee Kaplan, who gave the second opinion today, will perform Alex Rodriguez’s arthroscopic knee surgery tomorrow. “As I’ve said several times already this year, some people are going to have to step up,” Girardi said. “Up to this point, this team has. We certainly look forward to getting a healthy Alex back into our lineup because we know what he adds to this team.”
• The Yankees will obviously make a move before Thursday’s game, but for now it seems that Eduardo Nunez will get the bulk of the playing time at third base. “I don’t want my teammates hurt,” Nunez said. “But if they need me, I can do it.”
• Speaking of Nunez, he thought the first baseman was going to tag him on that close play in the third inning. That’s why he slid, even though he was way too close to the bag and running way too fast. He hurt his knee, but said he felt fine the rest of the game. “Now it’s OK,” he said. “Nothing to worry about.”
• After the Nunez single, Derek Jeter hit No. 3,004 was a bunt single perfectly executed down the third-base line. “It’s a smart play,” Girardi said. “And Derek has always been a heads-up player.”
• After reaching on that third-inning single, Nunez was eventually thrown out at the plate one batter after all-star Curtis Granderson — tied for the team lead in home runs — laid down a sacrifice bunt. Girardi said that he’d already come to believe it was going to be a low-scoring game, and he thought one run might be enough, so he managed accordingly. “Just trying to scratch out a run,” he said.
• When the Yankees did scratch out a run, he came on bad base-running by Robinson Cano and even worse throwing by the Rays defense. “I thought he was never going to get that (fly ball to center) because the second baseman was like, he kind of got it, and then I was too far away, he throws it away,” Cano said. “Then, I almost got thrown at third, but sometimes you’re the one who’s got to make mistakes to win games. I mean, I don’t want to look to those kind of mistakes, but we won a game. It’s in the past and you just don’t let it happen again.”
• Feel lucky: “Of course, of course,” Cano said.
• As planned, Sabathia is going to skip the all-star game. Derek Jeter also once again confirmed that he won’t be going. Dave Robertson, though, is positively pumped about flying to Arizona. “I’d pretty much given up on it,” he said. “I thought if it hadn’t happened by now, it’s not going to happen. But I’m really excited to go.”
• Sabathia said it never crossed his mind that his not covering first base might lead to a run in the seventh inning. “I was just trying to make pitches,” he said. “Sean Rodriguez put a good swing on a 3-2 fastball and it just so happened B.J. (Upton) was running and not paying attention.”
• When the game ended, Girardi initially had no Rodriguez update. His reason was pretty funny. “CC pitched too quick,” he said.
Associated Press photos