Last time we saw CC Sabathia, he left his teammates with no doubt that rain had washed away a night of perfection. Sabathia was overwhelming last week, certainly as good as he’s been all year and maybe as good as he’s been at any point in his career.
Today was different, and maybe that’s what makes him so good.
“He’s a true ace, that’s what he is,” Joe Girardi said. “He knows how to pitch when he has his great stuff, and he knows how to pitch when he doesn’t have his great stuff. That’s what he did tonight.”
Sabathia matched a season-high with 10 hits tonight, and he had some luck on his side on a couple of pivotal double plays, but the bottom line was this: In a one run game, Sabathia allowed only one hit with runners in scoring position, and that was an infield single that didn’t score a run. He walked no one, struck out six and made his only costly mistake on a home run by Alexi Ramirez.
This wasn’t a dance with perfection, but when the Yankees bats went quiet, they absolutely needed their starter to be as dominant as ever. And Sabathia was. When it counted, he was terrific.
“That’s the reason he’s the No. 1 guy,” Curtis Granderson said. “He’s probably the definition of it. He wants the ball, he demands the ball and then goes out there and knows what to do with it.”
Said Sabathia: “I always say it’s just getting older, being a veteran and knowing that every time out you’re not going to have your best stuff. Being able to go out and battle and keep the team in the game.”
• Sabathia said his slider was the difference between this start and some of his other starts this season. Sabathia felt like he had a good fastball, but his slider was “kind of floating up there.” He said that’s why he gave up the two hits to A.J. Pierzynski and at least one 0-2 hit.
• Francisco Cervelli had a slightly different take: “At the beginning, the ball was running to the glove side,” Cervelli said. “But later he was able to throw the cutter and the change-up pretty well.”
• Adam Dunn struck out three times, twice with the tying run on base. Those last two strikeouts came on the slider that Sabathia said wasn’t sharp tonight. Dunn has three hits — three! — against lefties this season. All three have been singles. Sabathia admitted that it was in his mind tonight that he didn’t necessarily have to give in against Carlos Quentin because Dunn was on deck. “You’ve just got to make sure you’re going to make pitches,” Sabathia said. “Especially if you’re going to, not pitch around a guy, but just not give in to him. You’ve got to make sure you make pitches to the guy you want to get out.”
• By the way, can you imagine Dunn in New York this season? After signing that contract and having this kind of year. The White Sox fans were booing him all night. I have one friend — and old Scranton buddy name Tony — who’s a diehard White Sox fan. I texted him after the game and said, “Guess how many hits Dunn has against lefties this year.” He texted back: “Oh, I’m well aware he has 3.” Ouch.
• Sabathia got some help tonight, no question. Brent Moral came to the plate three times, always with a runner in scoring position. Essentially, he was responsible for five outs: Two line drive double plays and a fly out to right field. “I thought we kept hitting some balls hard, and they did, too,” Girardi said. “We got some big double plays and they did, too. It was one of those nights when the fielders were in the right spots.”
• Girardi had Dave Robertson warming in the eighth, but he stuck with the big man. “I wanted to see how CC was doing,” Girardi said. “(Alexi) Ramirez had some pretty good at-bats off him and has had some success off him, but I decided to stay with him.”
• Mariano Rivera got his 28th save of the season. He has a career ERA of 1.20 against the White Sox. That’s 11 earned runs in 82.2 innings. In his career, Rivera has pitched an entire season against the White Sox, and they’re not even in the division!
• Brett Gardner has a nine-game road hitting streak during which he’s hit .485 with three doubles and seven runs scored.
• Curtis Granderson has doubled twice in a game 12 times in his career. Four of those games have been this season.
• The Yankees have reportedly agreed to release Randy Flores tomorrow. The Yankees had him as lefty insurance and just never made the move.
• Speaking of the minors: MLBTradeRumors notes that former Yankees minor leaguer Matt Carson has been acquired by the Rays, so the Yankees could see him during the upcoming home stand. Carson’s a nice role player, and he’s in that Dan Giese/Andy Phillips/Eric Duncan Hall of Fame of all-time nice guys.
• I went to the hotel to get these notes finished. My hope is that the internet situation is a little more useable tomorrow. Sorry for the lack of updates during the game.
Associated Press photos