BRONX, NY – For everything the brand-new Yankee Stadium provides to its fans, it does not offer climate control. On Friday night, Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia did his best to make up for that shortcoming.
“Yeah, it was cold,” Sabathia said after the game. “But you just gotta deal with it.”
The Yankee ace did just that, and unlike the Los Angeles Angels, whose sloppy fielding was clearly affected by the frigid temperature, Sabathia showed little effect from the cold.
He allowed just one run and four hits over eight innings in the Yankees’ 4-1 win in the ALCS opener. After completing a 1-2-3 eighth inning, the stadium exploded, chanting “CC” over and over again as the gigantic left-hander made his way to the dugout.
“It was a great feeling to have the Stadium rocking and the fans chanting my name.” said Sabathia, who threw just 112 pitches.
“He was sensational,” said manager Joe Girardi after the game. “There are conditions you have to deal with … and he threw extremely well.”
The only run off the left-hander – who struck out seven Angels and walked just one – came in the fourth, when Vladimir Guerrero doubled off the wall in and later scored on Kendry Morales’ RBI single.
It was all the offense the Angels could muster on this chilly October night, and their clumsiness in the field was as deadly as their offense was silent.
In the first, Los Angeles starter John Lackey allowed a single to Derek Jeter. The Yankee captain then advanced to third on Johnny Damon’s fly ball single to left. A poor throw by left fielder Juan Rivera – who missed the cutoff man – allowed Damon to advance to second base.
Jeter would score on a sacrifice fly by Alex Rodriguez, but the crushing play of the game was when third baseman Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar allowed a potential inning-ending popup to fall untouched between them.
The gaffe allowed Damon to score the only other run the Yankees would need.
“They are a very sound baseball club, and you certainly can’t count on that happening every night … it’s just one game,” Girardi said. “I thought the first inning was really important to this game … you don’t want to walk away fro that inning without scoring.”
The Yankees capitalized on the two mistakes, and thanks to a tremendous pitching performance from their ace, bring a 1-0 lead into Game 2.
Check out BaseballDigest.com for more from Mark Healey.