You will be able to tell who actually watched CC Sabathia pitch last night versus who just scouted off the box score because Sabathia pitched much better than allowing five runs over 5.2 innings would indicate.
Whether people like to admit it or not luck plays a huge role in baseball, which is why we have stats now to weed out who is getting lucky and who is not. The Yankees were very lucky to win Tuesday and Sabathia was very unlucky in his start yesterday. That's baseball.
Sabathia kept the ball on the ground, had good control, struck people out and avoided hard contact, which is really all you can ask a pitcher to do. The vast majority of the time doing those four things will lead to a terrific start.
Even though Sabathia was not throwing hard, his sinker kept the Blue Jays from hitting the ball in the air. His ground ball rate last night was 75 percent, which is excellent and normally a recipe for success with the Yankees infield defense. However, sometimes grounders find holes and it seems they find holes more often against the Yankees when they shift than any other team for some reason. Every game this series against Toronto the shift cost the Yankees runs and it cost the Yankees majorly in the four-run second inning.
Sabathia did not let up an extra base hit the whole game and only two of his eight hits allowed came on line drives with the other six being all grounders. When he wasn't inducing grounders he was getting swings and misses. Toronto swung and missed on 15 of Sabathia's pitches and struck out eight times. The slider was working in particular for Sabathia, with Toronto batters whiffing on 57 percent of their swings against it and striking out four times.
In addition to all of this, Sabathia had great control and did not walk a hitter. The home run balls that were killing him the past two years were nonexistent as well. Toronto did not even hit a ball close to being gone against him. This was all done against a lineup that was put together to be a nightmare for him. With the top five Toronto batters all being right handed and with the 3-4-5 hitters possibly being the best in baseball with the most power you would have been very surprised if Sabathia did not let up multiple home runs, let alone much hard contact at all.
Sabathia had a .45 tERA and a .32 xFIP for this start, which backs up the fact that he was extremely unlucky last night. This was probably the best Sabathia has looked since 2012. Counting on Sabathia as a third of fourth starter should probably be very low on the list of concerns for the Yankees with the offense looking as anemic as it has the previous two seasons.