CC Sabathia (7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 4 K) As I mentioned in the game thread, Sabathia came into this game with a 7.38 ERA since the All Star break. The Yankees need to win every game they can, and that's just not going to happen when your supposed ace is hurting you every 5 games. Against the American League's weakest offense, Sabathia was hoping to gain some confidence from tonight's game. After allowing a run on a couple of walks and a double in the 1st inning, Sabathia settled down.
The biggest inning might have been the fourth, where Sabathia began the inning with a man on second due to a throwing error by Derek Jeter. The lefty induced two soft hits and a strikeout to strand the runner on base without giving up the lead. The Yankees would go on to score a quartet of base runners in the bottom of that inning, giving him all the room he needed to work with.
One thing I noticed about Sabathia was that he seemed to be working with less velocity. My personal theory is that Sabathia has been overthrowing all season to make up for the velocity he lost during this offseason. This has led to poor command, and all these pitches left up in the zone have been subsequently scorched. After giving up 2 walks and a single in the first, I noticed he threw a number of low 90's and high 80 fastballs afterwards, which grew into a much more successful strategy. The command on these pitches looked better and the contact was weaker. We'll see if he continues this trend and if he has any sort of success with it against better offenses.
Robinson Cano (3-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) What a game for Cano. A quick game tying home run in the 1st inning was a huge boost to Sabathia, and a hard line drive that rebounded off the pitcher's glove gave the Yankees another run in the 4th. Cano was previously 1 for his last 13, so tonight was a nice contribution.
Lyle Overbay (1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K) Just to give you an idea of how much better this offense is, the Yankees one-time first baseman and clean up hitter has hit just 8 times over the last week. A slump and a number of left-handed pitchers gave Overbay a long rest, and perhaps that was necessary. He had a great game where he walked and came up with a big line drive double to score the go-ahead run and continue the rally in the fourth inning.
Brett Gardner (2-4, 1 3B, 1 R, 2 RBI) Gardner had 5 extra base hits in his 4 previous games, and he added a 2 run triple today. He's been decimating the ball, and hopefully this continues during their big series against the Red Sox.
David Robertson (0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB) The 8th inning guy has only had to pitch once since August 25th. The rust definitely showed. He allowed his 2 inherited runners score, (poor Sabathia) as well as 2 of his own runs. That big 6-1 cushion was quickly turned into a 6-5 nail biter, and Mariano Rivera was called into the game to clean up the mess.
Mariano Rivera (1.1 IP, 1 K) Of course he came through with a strike out in the 2 out and 2 on 8th inning, but the question was whether he could still get the 4-out save. I'm just kidding, there were no questions. He worked fast, threw a total of 15 pitches, and received a well earned save without allowing a single baserunner.
So the Yankees are now 75-64, 11 games over .500. Barring a miraculous victory, the Red Sox will win tonight, setting the Yankees 8.0 games back of the AL East as the Red Sox come to the Bronx tomorrow. The Yankees do gain a game on the Rangers though (5.0 games back now), who look like the next Wild Card team to catch after the Rays. Also, the Orioles have lost their game with the Indians, two teams right on the Yankees' tail. Finally, the Rays play the Angels tonight, and with a loss from Tampa Bay, the Yankees would move to 1.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. Go Angels!