Excitement level during this game: HELIOTROPE
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit irrational, but as a former pitcher, I sure do love me a good old fashioned pitcher’s duel. And a walkoff! What could be better? The last 2 innings weren’t exactly textbook, but you know what? The Yankees won a 1-run, extra-innings affair. Those have been rare this year, and I cherish them dearly. Let’s dive in.
Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?
Yes, CC. This is the version we have been looking for. Welcome back, old friend. Despite the fact that his velocity was still a bit disappointing in the early going, it was apparent from the first pitch that CC was on a mission tonight. Prior to tonight’s outing, Sabathia had struck out a combined 12 batters in his 3 September starts, including only 3 in his last outing against the Rays. CC matched that total in the first inning tonight, striking out the side in dominant fashion and relying on a biting slider, the likes of which we haven’t seen since his return from the DL on August 24.
Oh, and about that velocity? Nevermind. After the 2nd inning, the Big Guy was consistently between 94 and 96 with the fastball (I was monitoring both YES and CSN Bay Area, so the readings are legit) and there was movement that has been missing for nearly a month. And that slider! My word! I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of awe coupled with relief that I experienced watching CC tonight, but the fact that it happened makes me feel much more confident about the Yanks and the Big Guy moving forward.
CC took a no-hit bid into the 6th, but Stephen Drew spoiled the fun with a single to center field to lead off the inning. Nothing that I would consider trouble took place until the 8th inning. After getting Derek Norris to ground out, CC allowed his second hit to Stephen Drew again (h/t Stacey: enough with him and his two first names), an infield single to Collin Cowgill, and then nicked Jonny Gomes with an inside fastball. With the bases loaded, 2 outs, a 1-0 lead, and 112 pitches in, CC got Josh Reddick to fly out to LF on the first pitch he saw, ending the threat. Sabathia had Reddick’s number tonight, retiring him three times via strikeout and once via (pivotal) flyout.
I don’t like jumping to conclusions, but given CC’s career track record, I’m hoping we can file his last 4 starts in the “anomaly” department and count on the Big Guy to take us to the promised land yet again. The A’s may strike out a lot, but they can also mash, so tonight was no fluke. CC was on his game. Final line: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 113 pitches.
Jarrod Parker: Yankee Killer
Or maybe he’s just that good. Jarrod Parker has made two starts against the Yankees this season, and has dazzled both times. On July 21 in Oakland, Parker threw 8 innings of 1 run ball, striking out 5 in a 2-1 win. Tonight he put up a nearly identical line with 8 IP, 1 ER, and 7 K. The Yankees scored their lone run off Parker in the 3rd inning. Swisher led off with a single, which was followed by a Cano fly out and an A-Rod single that sent Swish to 3rd with 1 out. Curtis Granderson then hit a fly ball to Yoenis Cespedes in left, who uncorked a slightly offline throw that allowed Swisher to score and give the Yanks a 1-0 lead. Tip of the cap to the young Jarrod Parker, who only allowed 3 baserunners the rest of the way and finished the 8th inning down 1-0.
My shirt is still tucked in
42 saves in 46 appearances is phenomenal, let’s just get that out there right off the bat. As much as we hate to admit it, even Mo blows a save or two here and there, sometimes when the Yanks need one the most. Sad, but true. Rafael Soriano has been an elite closer this season, and fans, including myself, have nothing to complain about. This blown save, however, still floored me. CC had just provided an edgy fan base with renewed resolve after his bounce back performance, and the offense managed to manufacture a run against an ace-in-the-making who tossed a gem. The Yanks needed this game. Alas, these are the pesky A’s. After tonight, they now account for half of Rafael Soriano’s blown saves.
After stopping my heart and recording out number one on a 380-ft fly ball from Cespedes, Soriano did what I consider to be the unthinkable. Pinch hitter Brandon Moss came to the plate for one reason. He is a lefty, batting in Yankee Stadium, who has 18 HR in 221 AB this season. He was clearly looking to up that ratio to 19 in 222. Soriano worked cautiously to Moss at first with fastballs on the outer half, but took a huge gamble coming inside with the slider after getting ahead in the count. Operative word: gamble. Soriano hung the slider, and Moss crushed a no doubter, along the with the hopes of the Yankees’ faithful who were aware of the Orioles 4-2 lead over Boston at the time. Tie score: 1-1. Retuck. Soriano got Derek Norris to pop up before walking the next two hitters. Seth Smith, who beat Soriano with a home run for a blown save back in July, pinch hit for Adam Rosales but Rafa was able to get him swinging to guarantee extras.
Muscle, Russell the
After the Yankees went down relatively quietly in the Bottom of the 9th against Sean Doolittle, Russell Martin made sure that the Bottom of the 10th would prove to be more eventful. For the second time this year, Russell led off an inning with a walkoff home run into the LF seats to provide the Yanks with a win in dramatic fashion. In a year where we’ve witnessed a pie shortage (only 3 walkoffs, whomp whomp) Russell is responsible for two of the more dramatic swings we’ve seen this year. His overall numbers may not be anything to write home about, but add this home run to the fact that he’s been hot for the last three weeks and played near-Gold Glove caliber defense all season and I’d go as far to say that Russell has pulled his weight.
So, what did I miss?
Probably not much. This game was a nail biter all the way, and a pleasure to watch with both SPs turning in superb outings. One tidbit: the Yankees’ first hit came on an Ichiro comebacker that got stuck in Jarrod Parker’s jersey. Ichiro was safe at first with an infield single when Parker was unable to retrieve the ball from his clothing. Personal note: this happened to me once on the mound in high school, and it’s a VERY helpless feeling.
Tomorrow at 1:05pm at Yankee Stadium, the Yanks take on the A’s in Game 2 of this 3 game set. Travis Blackley (5-3, 3.36 ERA) will oppose Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.85 ERA). The Orioles beat the Red Sox by a score of 4-2, so the AL East lead remains at 1 game.