Through most of CC Sabathia’s career with the Indians — including his Cy Young season — the Cleveland manager was Eric Wedge, who tonight sat in the Mariners dugout and watched his former ace dismantle his current lineup.
“That was about as good of stuff as I’ve seen him have,” Wedge said. “He had a better fastball than we’ve seen him have a times. He’s always had a good fastball, but at times, but he was really consistent with it tonight. His secondary stuff was as good as we’ve seen it too.”
It was a performance for the ages until the rain came. Clouds had been gathering since the early innings, and it was quickly very obvious that the weather was a greater threat than the Mariners. Sabathia had struck out seven in a row — one shy of an American League record — before a steady shower turned into a temporary downpour, forcing a 30-minute rain delay. Sabathia retired the first three batters after the break, but Joe Girardi said Sabathia’s stuff wasn’t quite the same. He’d thrown for a while underneath the stands, but the offspeed stuff was different.
“He was so sharp before the rain delay, and I thought his slider got a little bit bigger after the rain delay,” Girardi said. “I didn’t think he was quite as sharp, and we’ll never know, but golly, for that (six) and a third he was brilliant… It’s one of those nights, he’s rolling along so well, it’s just like, please don’t stop this game. But you can’t stop mother nature.”
Sabathia said he still felt good after the first delay, but the second was obviously a different story. Ultimately, Sabathia settled for a career-high 14 strikeouts on a night that was more memorable for what might have happened than for what actually happened.
Francisco Cervelli: “The whole game, I had in my mind, no-hitter… The first inning, the way he was throwing the ball in my glove, sliders in the dirt, I thought we had a chance to do it. They’re professional hitters, but CC was really good today.”
Mark Teixeira: “He was so dominant. You always figure someone’s going to bloop one in or you’re going to make a mistake, someone’s going to get a hit. But the fourth or fifth inning, he was dominant, and we figured, alright, if he can keep this up, I think he’s going to get it… You never know. No rain, he might have had a perfect game.”
Eric Chavez: “There was no doubt in my mind he was going to throw a no-hitter.”
CC Sabathia: “You know you haven’t pitched out of the stretch the whole game. Some guys say they don’t know, but I know from the first pitch until I get out of the stretch that I’m in the situation I’m in.”
• Girardi said the first delay could have gone quite a while without Sabathia needing to come out of the game. His pitch count was low enough, that the Yankees could have let Sabathia throw simulated innings every 15 minutes or so and just counted that against his game pitches. Sabathia said it didn’t matter. There was no chance Girardi was taking him out. “I was going back out,” he said.
• During the rain delay, Sabathia said he sat in the clubhouse and talked to his teammates. There was no superstitious silent treatment during the game or the delay. “I’m really not that type of person,” Sabathia said. “It was just normal.”
• Sabathia guessed that he’s shaken off Cervelli two or three times since Cervelli became his regular catcher. As soon as he started his postgame press conference, Sabathia gave a ton of credit to his catcher. Cervelli, of course, deflected the praise right back to his pitcher. “He’s a liar,” Cervelli said. “He’s got the ball, so he throws what he wants. I just try to be on the same page.”
• The single by Brendan Ryan was a 2-0 fastball. It extended Ryan’s hitting streak to 10 games.
• The Yankees had a total of 18 strikeouts tonight, their highest nine-inning total since Ron Guidry’s 18-strikeout game in 1978… This was the first time the Yankees held their opponent to one hit since September of last year when Sabathia beat the Athletics… This was the first time the Yankees held the Mariners to one hit since 2002 when Freddy Garcia was opposing starter for Seattle.
• Curtis Granderson momentarily took sole possession of the team lead in home runs tonight, but just a few innings after he hit his 28th, Teixeira responded with his own 28th homer in the eighth inning. “It’s a lot of fun,” Teixeira said. “We don’t like sitting on whatever number we’re at, so we enjoy going back and forth.”
• Teixeira has now hit 100 home runs since coming to the Yankees.
• Nothing more to say about Dave Robertson. That was still a three-run game when he came out of the bullpen with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth. He allowed one run on a routine grounder to third, but got two quick outs to limit the damage. “He does it every time, doesn’t he?” Teixeira said.
• By the way, Girardi said he’s still not sure whether Rafael Soriano will be activated tomorrow or Friday. He also refused to say whether Soriano will take back the eighth inning. “The first thing is, let me get him back, and then we’ll make decisions as the game goes on,” Girardi said. “We need to get him pitching well, that’s the bottom line, and get him comfortable. He had four outings, which is not a ton of outings. It’s somewhat of a short spring training, but we feel that we need him and then I’ll make those decisions.”
• Chavez said everything felt fine in his return from the disabled list. He was tested a little bit — and made some nice plays at third — but he came out of the game with no pain, having gone 1-for-3 with an RBI single.
• Let’s end with this Robertson stat: When he struck out the first batter he faced in the eighth, it was his 10th consecutive strikeout with the bases loaded. No pitcher since at least 1965 had a bases-loaded strikeout streak that long in a single season. Robertson has faced 12 batters with the bases loaded this season: 10 strikeouts, one ground ball out and one double.
Associated Press photos