Good Morning, and Happy Birthday to: Outfielder David Justice, whose mid-season 2000 acquisition may have saved the Yankees’ season which ended in the Subway Series victory.
Sixty-Four Years Ago Today: The great Elston Howard, the Yankees first African-American player, made his debut. Howard entered the game in the sixth inning, replacing Irv Noren in left field. He later delivered an RBI single in his first MLB at bat.
About Yesterday: CC Sabathia sure looked like he was making a statement in his first start of 2019 – holding Chicago to one hit over the first five innings.
Sabathia wasn’t alone in quality pitching though, as his good friend Ivan Nova spun six scoreless frames himself for the visitors. In the seventh though, the Yanks finally got onto the board. After Gleyber Torres’ leadoff single, the struggling Greg Bird grounded into what looked to be a sure DP, but Chicago secondbaseman Yolmer Sanchez mishandled it and the Yanks had two on with nobody out. After Clint Frazier’s single loaded the bases, the Yanks took the lead in a un-Yankee way. Luke Voit’s bloop single, Kyle Higashioka’s sacrifice fly, and Tyler Wade’s bunt (!) gave New York and 3-0 lead. Aaron Judge tacked on solo home run in the eighth.
That was all that was needed, as Domingo German, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman held the White Sox hitless for the last four innings. Victory was New York’s 4-0 as the Yankee pitchers one-hit Chicago.
Who’s Hot? Can’t get much better than CC’s five innings and only one hit…Domingo German has been huge in the rotation thus far, and hurled two scoreless innings out of the pen to gain the win…Higashioka hit the ball hard all three times at bat.
Who’s Not? Greg Bird was 0-4 and is hitting .171 with a .550 OPS – unacceptable for a first baseman. Unfortunately for him, he’s looking like he could be the one heading to AAA once position players come back from the injured list.
Why it Matters? On paper, the return of Sabathia was nice, but in this season’s house of horrors, was easy to overlook. CC added to his reputation as a stopper though, as the Yanks ended a four-game losing streak. Most postgame interviews mentioned his leadership and presence, which certainly cannot hurt as the team works through adversity.
Another thing not to overlook - the Yanks played “good baseball” today. Good defense overall. Smart baserunning by Frazier on Higashioka’s sacrifice fly to right advancing to third, setting up Wade’s excellent squeeze bunt. Excellent relief pitching. We haven’t seen the Yanks do the little things this season, but they sure did today.
Excellent game by Higashioka, who not only did the job with the SF in the seventh, but was praised by Sabathia for his game behind the plate. “Higgy” is no superstar, but the Yanks are fortunate to have a catcher of his caliber in reserve and able to contribute in the event of injury to another catcher.
Other Thoughts: A grind it out win that is needed during this rough patch…Yankee versatility was on display when Voit pinch hit for Mike Tauchman in the seventh, then in the eighth Wade moved from second to left, DJ LeMahieu moved from third to second, and Gio Urshela came in to play the hot corner.
They Said It: “It means a lot to that room” – Manager Aaron Boone on the effect that CC Sabathia’s return has on the team.
Final Takeaway: The only thing better for a writer than a Yankee win is an early in the day Yankee win.
Today’s Game: Take the series! Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 1.47) goes against Carlos Rodon (1-2, 3.38).