The video above is Joe Girardi talking about CC Sabathia’s latest outing, and really, there’s not much more to say about. The box score pretty much tells the story: Six innings, two runs, a bunch of singles, one leadoff homer, and too many pitches to give his usual seven or eight innings. It was a fine start. Not a great start, not a bad start, but a winnable start.
“He gave us an opportunity,” Vernon Wells said. “And that’s what our starting pitching has been doing all year. They’ve given us opportunities to win games, and for the most part we’ve been able to score just enough runs to support them.”
The Yankees didn’t do that tonight. In fact, they didn’t score any runs to support them. Sabathia was solid, Adam Warren came through with three scoreless to help a depleted bullpen, and the Yankees responded with an 0-for-6 night with runners in scoring position. They were 1-for-13 with runners on base.
As a team, the Yankees haven’t been particularly good with runners in scoring position — hitting just .219 in those spots — but Travis Hafner has been terrific in those spots, Ichiro Suzuki has hit .320 in RISP at-bats, and Robinson Cano has a .609 slugging percentage in those spots (Kevin Youkilis and Francisco Cervelli were also good with RISP before getting hurt). Key hitters have come through with key hits, and that’s helped. It didn’t happen tonight.
What to make of it? Probably not much except that RISP production is the kind of thing that’s not going to happen every night, and this time it didn’t happen in a game that would have been very winnable otherwise. This was one of those games when the Yankees lineup looked very depleted.
“I think usually guys kind of get locked in a little more in those situations,” Wells said. “I think this team has done a great job over the course of the season. We’ve had opportunities and taken advantage of a lot of them. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights.”
• The Yankees were shut out for the second time this season. Those two games — also April 24 at Tampa Bay — are the only games they’ve lost when allowing four runs or less. They’re now 10-2 in those games.
• The Yankees hadn’t been shut out by Oakland since August 17, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum. They hadn’t been shut out by Oakland in New York since June 30, 2007 at the old Yankee Stadium.
• Predictably, the Yankees said some belonged to Oakland starter A.J. Griffin, who throws a very slow curveball to help keep hitters off balance and disrupt timing. “That fastball has decent velocity on it, but it looks harder than it is because he’s throwing that slow curveball at us,” Stewart said. “He was locating his fastball too, just keeping us off balance. We weren’t able to put consistently good swings on him. One inning we had a couple of runners on and hit some balls hard, just right to people. That’s the name of the game.”
• One last gasp came in the eighth when Brett Gardner had a 3-2 count and still laid down a bunt single. It was his second hit of a game, and obviously a gutsy decision with two strikes. “I don’t have a problem with it,” Girardi said. “If you’re a good enough bunter where you can put it fair, you don’t have to be as precise because usually they’re not going to play in. And if you’re able to do it a few times with two strikes, they are going to play in and that opens the infield up more.”
• Robinson Cano’s third-inning double was the 343rd of his career, moving him into a tie with Bill Dickey for ninth place on the Yankees all-time list. He will tie Mickey Mantle for eighth place with his next double.
• This was the second time in Sabathia’s career that he allowed a home run on his first pitch. Austin Jackson hit a first-pitch homer in 2010. This was only Sabathia’s second career loss against the A’s. “The first pitch of the game was kind of up the middle, the guy got it and hit it out of the park. Other than that he threw pretty well. He got out of a couple of jams and unfortunately left a 3-0 pitch down the middle to Norris to drive in Cespedes. Other than that his stuff was pretty decent. He pitched well tonight.”
• Sabathia on his outing: “Felt pretty good. Felt like I had good stuff and was making some pitches, just they did a good job of putting some good at-bats together and running the pitch count up there. … The good thing, I was throwing my breaking stuff for strikes and it helped me out tonight.”
• In the third inning, Sabathia got into a brief but animated argument with home plate umpire Jordan Baker. That’s why Girardi went to the mound, just to make sure Sabathia was calm. “I can’t be yelled at (by the umpire),” Sabathia said. “I’m a grown man, and I didn’t say nothing to him and he came from behind the plate, so of course I was animated. I guess he thought I was talking to him, but I wasn’t.”
• Stewart on the unusual exchange: “It was just kind of miscommunication. CC was mad at himself. The umpire thought he was talking to him. It was overblown. It wasn’t a situation, it just kind of looked like it.”
• Jayson Nix had his fifth multi-hit game of the year. He has a hit in nine of his past 13 games.
• The pitching bright spot might have been Adam Warren who gave the Yankees three scoreless innings on a night the bullpen was short. He’s been used mostly as a mopup man, but Warren could get more important innings now that David Phelps is in the rotation, Joba Chamberlain is on the DL and Dave Robertson is shut down for a few days. “Gave us a chance to win the game,” Girardi said.
Associated Press photos