It’s easy to see the trend developing between CC Sabathia and the Red Sox. The numbers paint a pretty convincing picture, and it’s not a good one for the Yankees ace: He’s 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against the rest of baseball, but 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against Boston. He’d allowed a total of seven runs in his previous eight starts, but allowed seven runs in six innings today.
“I can see (being worried) if I hadn’t beat them in the last three years,” Sabathia said. “But I have. So that gives me confidence to know that I can go out and pitch well against this team.”
The Yankees are quick to point out that Sabathia allowed just one run in one of those Boston losses, and it was one bad inning that cost him in another. Instead of looking for broad story lines, they focused on the specifics of this start. Again, the evidence was convincing.
Sabathia: “Fastball command wasn’t there. Everybody knows I throw everything off my fastball. It was just cutting and up-and-out and just all over the place. It was a tough day today.”
Francisco Cervelli: “Early in the game we had no fastball control, so it was tough with the Red Sox lineup. It’s tough, man. If you get behind, if you make mistakes, you’re going to pay because they’re really good.”
Larry Rothschild: “I think you need all your pitches in a game like today. I think he got into a little bit of a pattern of throwing fastballs when he didn’t have to in some situations, and he didn’t command it as good as he has been. He was up a lot. Even the strikes were up and away. They weren’t located as well as he usually locates them. It was one of those days for him.”
Fastball command was the issue today. Sabathia said it was fastball command that got him into hitters’ counts, and it was fastball command that left hitable pitches over the plate. If there was an adjustment to be made, it didn’t happen quickly enough.
“When I’m right, I can get anybody,” Sabathia said. “It’s just one of those things.”
Here’s Sabathia. It’s kind of hard to hear parts of it, but he did his interview out in the concourse so bad audio is unavoidable.
Three comments about pitch selection, and whether Sabathia should have adjusted without his fastball command:
Sabathia: “It’s just me not recognizing it early enough and going to other pitches. Maybe use my changeup a little more, maybe use my cutter a little more. In some of those hitters counts, I was just trying to make a pitch with a fastball and it just wasn’t working out for me.”
Rothschild: “They’re going to have prolonged at-bats and they’re going to make adjustments. You have to be able to make adjustments, and the only way to do that is to have command of more than one pitch.”
Cervelli: “Maybe if the fastball is in a good location and they get jammed, it’s another opinion. I’ve got my plans. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s wrong.”
• The pitching matchup seemed lopsided in the Yankees favor, but John Lackey was able to limit the damage. The Yankees were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and they left nine men on base. The leadoff man reached base in the sixth, seventh and ninth without the Yankees scoring a run.
• The best chance to get back in the game came when the first three batters reached in the fifth. The Yankees got only one run out of it because Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira struck out, and Robinson Cano grounded to third. “Boston had already done what they needed to do,” Granderson said. “We had to play catch-up and we weren’t able to go ahead and get even.”
• On the other side, the decisive blow was certainly Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-out, three-run homer in the fourth. Ellsbury doubled his previous career-high with six RBI. “It’s another missed location,” Sabathia said of the home run pitch. “Two fastballs down and away, and then I give one up and out over the plate like he likes it. He just put a good swing on it.”
• Against Sabathia: David Ortiz was hitless, Adrian Gonzalez had one hit, Carl Crawford went 3-for-3 and Ellsbury was 1-for-2 with the home run and a sac fly. Lefties are hitting .200 against Sabathia this season, but Crawford and Ellsbury were especially damaging against him today.
• Seven runs was a season-high for Sabathia. The five-run fourth was his second-worst inning of the season.
• One positive note on Sabathia: He struck out six, giving him nine straight starts with at least that many strikeouts. That’s a career-long streak, and last Yankees pitchers to have that many consecutive six-strikeout games was Roger Clemens in 2001.
• Girardi said he believes Hector Noesi will be fine after being hit by a line drive in the ninth. The ball hit his chest and bounced up to hit his face. “I think he’s fine, but he’s probably a little sore,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of the bullpen, Girardi said he believes the bullpen will be fine for tomorrow, but he will have Phil Hughes just in case. “If I need him, depending on what kind of game it is,” Girardi said.
• Cervelli went 3-for-4, improving to 6-for-10 against the Red Sox this season and 18-for-42 in 13 career games against Boston. He’s a .478 hitter in seven career games at Fenway.
• Robinson Cano has gone hitless in back-to-back games at Fenway for the first time in his career.
• Mark Teixeira’s team-leading 32nd home run was his four career homer off Daniel Bard. No other major leaguer has more than one home run against Bard.
• Granderson stole his 100th career base in the fourth inning. He also scored his Major League-leading 100th run of the season.
• Girardi on Alex Rodriguez: “He took BP, took some ground balls and moved a little bit. Basically the same stuff he’s been doing, a little bit more, though.”
Associated Press photos