The top of the first inning wasn’t over, and already Joe Girardi was on the field arguing with home plate umpire Ed Rapuano. It was that kind of night here in Boston, a night fueled by plenty of emotion, and largely decided by those who were able to contain it.
The Yankees backup catcher is perhaps the most emotional player on the roster, and he was in the middle of everything tonight. He was behind the plate when CC Sabathia and Boone Logan got out of huge jams, he hit a towering home run off John Lackey, and he stood toe-to-toe with Jarrod Saltalamacchia after Lackey seemed to retaliate with a pitch to the back.
“I don’t remember (what was said),” Cervelli said. “A lot of Spanish. At that moment, I forgot my English. But it’s part of the game, I’ve got a lot of energy.”
Girardi seemed certain Lackey’s pitch was intentional, Cervelli thought the same thing, and so did Sabathia, who was among the agitated Yankees who seemed ready to fight after the plunking.
What would have happened if Sabathia had stayed in the game to pitch the next half inning?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know.”
Speaking of Sabathia, while Cervelli was a bundle of energy behind the plate, Sabathia was a picture of calm on the mound. He gave up 10 hits tonight, and he seemed to be in trouble constantly, but he made huge pitches. Adrian Gonzalez was 0-for-4 against him with three strikeouts and a ground ball that ended the sixth inning.
“I was just trying to make pitches,” Sabathia said. “They put some tough at-bats together and tonight I was able to make pitches. They had a lot of runners on base, lot of opportunities but we could make pitches when we needed to. I felt like I had good stuff, felt good, felt strong all the way through. I tried to make sure I controlled my emotions and make pitches.”
Sabathia seemed indifferent to the fact this was his first win against Boston this season. The Yankees needed to win this game, and whatever happened in the past didn’t seem to matter.
“It was a big win against a team we’re chasing,” Sabathia said. “And I look forward to pitching 5 days from now.”
Can’t forget this guy. He wasn’t in the middle of a near fight like Cervelli, and he didn’t find his way through six innings like Sabathia, but his back-to-back bases-loaded strikeouts in the seventh were huge.
“I haven’t been more relaxed all year,” Logan said. “I know it’s easy to say that after what happened, but that’s the honest truth. I was composed, and the louder the fans got, the more locked in I got.”
Against this lineup, Logan knows this might not be the last time the Yankees need him this series.
“Coming in, I have good confidence right now,” he said. “I’ve been pitching well lately, which is what you need coming in facing the second-best lineup in the league. With all the lefties, there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to be getting in a couple of games.”
On an emotional night, the key might have been the one guy who kept his cool. Here’s Sabathia.
• There were a handful of good lines in the clubhouse tonight, but the best might have come from soft-spoken Larry Rothschild. He was asked whether he said a bad word to get himself ejected after Cervelli was plunked. “More than one,” he said.
• Girardi was ejected with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He argued that Saltalamacchia swung, but the umpires ruled it was a hit by pitch. “The explanation to me is, he said, ‘He got hit, which caused him to swing,'” Girardi said. “That was the explanation I got. He clearly swung to me, and that’s an important out. It’s not like me to blow my top very often, but this is an important game.”
• Girardi said, without question, Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch in the first inning. The umpire ruled that it hit the bat.
• After Cervelli’s long home run, he clapped his hands when he got to home plate. That might have upset Lackey and led to the hit-by-pitch. “Every time I get a base hit or a double, I clap,” Cervelli said. “That’s me, that’s my game, and I don’t try to do anything bad to another player. That’s me, and if they feel a different thing, I say I’m sorry. But I’m not trying to.”
• Asked about his emotional response to Logan getting out of the seventh, Cervelli said, “That’s Cervelli.” Seriously. It was a Rickey moment. Hilarious.
• Girardi said there was no hesitation leaving Sabathia in to finish the sixth inning with his highest pitch count of the season. The Yankees had Cory Wade getting lose in the fifth, and Girardi told Rothschild to sit Wade down after Sabathia got through that inning. It was basically a given, to Girardi, that Sabathia was going back out there. “There’s situations that he’s ready for,” Rothschild said. “And he’s had some extra rest the last four or five starts.”
• Sabathia threw 128 pitches, matching the second-highest total of his career.
• Girardi said it’s possible the Yankees could line up the rotation so that Sabathia gets an extra day before his next start, but it’s not certain they’ll do that. No one seems especially concerned about the pitch count, especially not Sabathia.
• Turns out, Russell Martin is a little banged up after being hit in the toe and the thumb in Baltimore. “We’ll see how he feels (tomorrow),” Girardi said. Martin said it’s a none issue. “I’m alright,” he said.
• Huge play by Robinson Cano to get the second out in the fifth inning. “He’s done that for me a couple times this year,” Sabathia said.
• Girardi’s ejection was hit second of the season, 16th of his career and 11th as Yankees manager. He was also ejected once as a player. The two ejections tonight were only the Yankees second and third ejections of the season.
• Brett Gardner broke an 0-for-14 skid with his seventh-inning single.
• Mariano Rivera got his 35th save of the season, making this his 11th season in which he’s saved at least 35 games. That’s one shy of Trevor Hoffman’s record for 35-save seasons.
Associated Press photos