Hoping for a nice, clean, review-free game tomorrow night? After the botched replay last night, and the overturned home run tonight, Joe Girardi brought up the idea that we should expect more of the same on Friday.
“Things go in threes, right?” he said.
It was strange enough to see it happen twice. As soon as Justin Morneau drove a ball to the right-field corner in the first inning, it was impossible not to think of last night’s home run call. This was another questionable homer, and Girardi was jogging onto the field, and it was going to be reviewed.
“It’s almost like, we need to get paid back,” Mark Teixeira said. “… Huge break. Two runs in the first inning against a good pitcher, that could have given them some momentum. I’m always a big believer that if you give CC a lead, he’s going to hold it. Because of that we were able to give him a lead in the next couple of innings, and he held it.”
Ultimately, the Yankees got two insurance runs in the ninth, and the two-run homer didn’t loom quite as large when the final score was 8-4, but through most of the game, it was a difference maker.
Sabathia got off to a slow start tonight, and the overturned homer felt like a kind of reprieve. Coming off back-to-back losses — his first back-to-back loses of the season — Sabathia allowed five base runners in the fist two innings, then he settled in and looked like the ace the Yankees are used to seeing. He said his slider got much better in the middle innings, and he found the arm angle on his fastball. He was “slinging” the baseball early — and a few times late — but Sabathia considered this fairly significant step forward from the previous three starts.
“I thought in the middle of the game I felt good,” he said. “I was making pitches. I was downhill. It just kind of got away from me at the end of that last inning, but when I needed to I thought I made some pretty pitches.”
• This is supposed to be a pitchers’ park, but the Yankees went deep three times. Of course, it was Andruw Jones’ third-deck shot that had the clubhouse buzzing afterward. “I couldn’t hit it up there with a 3-wood,” Nick Swisher said.
• Jones said he never saw where his homer landed. As soon as he knew he’d gone deep — and he knew quickly — he lowered his head and started jogging. “I never really look at where balls land,” he said.
• The other two home runs were a second-deck shot by Mark Teixeira, and a two-run shot just over the wall by Swisher. “We had all three decks covered,” Swisher said. “And I had the scraper.”
• Teixeira and Sabathia both said they had no idea whether Morneau’s home run was fair or foul, but Girardi said he was pretty sure it went foul. He asked for a replay without having seen or heard about one himself. Girardi said he didn’t suggest the umpires owed him one. “I didn’t say anything about yesterday,” he said. “Yesterday’s gone. There’s not anything we can do. You ask them to review it, and they’re good about it.”
• Sabathia said his changeup is still bothering him. He never really had it tonight, and he wants to work on it in his next bullpen. The slider, though, was much better tonight. “And I knew it was going to be huge for me tonight with all the lefties in their lineup,” Sabathia said.
• Sabathia has 14 regular-season wins against the Twins, tied with Tim Wakefield for second most among active players. Mark Buehrle has beaten the Twins 26 times.
• In the seventh inning, Girardi had Boone Logan ready in the bullpen, but he left Sabathia in to face lefties Mauer, Morneau and Thome. Yes, Sabathia’s a lefty, but he’d given up three straight hits that inning and it seemed like time to pull him. “If he gets into a long at-bat with someone, you have to see what happens to him,” Girardi said. “Once he got Mauer out, I was going with him all the way through Thome.”
• Underrated play of the night: Robinson Cano getting Jim Thome out to end that seventh inning. Cano had to go well to his left to make the play. “That’s a huge play,” Girardi said. “That’s CC’s last hitter, then it’s 6-5 (if he doesn’t make the play). That’s a big play.”
• Derek Jeter had two more hits tonight. The guy is hitting .291 now, and he has 17 hits in his past 32 at-bats. That’s a .531 batting average in seven games.
• The only player in tonight’s Yankees lineup with a higher batting average than Jeter was Robinson Cano. That’s unreal.
• Curtis Granderson’s triple gave the Yankees 30 triples for the season, the second-most in the American League. It also gave Granderson double digits in triples (10), doubles (18), homers (32) and stolen bases (22). Since 1913, when stolen bases became an official stat, only seven other Yankees have finished with double digits in those four stats (Ben Chapman, Lou Gehrig, Joe Gordon, Tony Lazzeri, Bob Meusel, Babe Ruth and Snuffy Stirnweiss). The last to do it was Stirnweiss … in 1945! That’s accoriding to Elias.
• The Yankees knew before the game that first pitch would be pushed back to 8:15 ET for the pregame ceremony for Thome (which was excellent, by the way). The game started a little later than that, and Girardi suggested that might have contributed to Sabathia’s rocky start, but Sabathia said it had no impact on him. “It went a little bit later, and that happens,” Girardi said. “The guy deserves the due that he got. I understand that. We’ve had it happen at our ballpark where it goes a little longer. Jim Thome deserves everything he got tonight. I don’t have a problem with it.”
• The Yankees confirmed that A.J. Burnett will start Saturday instead of Freddy Garcia. Sunday’s starter remains TBA. It will be either Garcia or Ivan Nova.
Associated Press photos