Other than a hiccup in the second inning of the New York Yankees 5-2 win over the visiting Boston Red Sox Saturday afternoon in the Bronx lefty starter C.C. Sabathia gave a pitching lesson the rest of the Bombers starting rotation should try and emulate. Especially, since the other guy who uses his initials as a first name has been an inconsistent question mark all season long. A.J. Burnett starts Sunday night’s game against the Sox.
Sabathia went eight strong innings, throwing 101 pitches along the way and out-dueled his opposite number, right-handed pitcher, John Lackey to earn his 14th win in 19 decisions. Sabathia struck out four and walked one, and after giving up a solo home run to catcher Victor Martinez and an RBI double to third baseman Adrian Beltre scoring first baseman Mike Lowell in the second, pretty well shut down the Red Sox offense the rest of the way. In fact, three of his four K’s was against Boston’s designated hitter David Ortiz. Ortiz was not a fan of home plate umpire Jerry Layne; questioning Layne on the expanse of his strike zone of a few occasions.
Meanwhile, Lackey, who has had past success while a member of the Los Angeles (Anaheim) Angels, didn’t fare as well. Lackey threw 116 pitches in six innings of work, giving up 5 earned runs on 8 hits, while walking three and striking out seven. Lackey’s downfall came in the 5th inning when the Yankees scored twice to break a 2-2 tie.
With two outs and Yankees at first and third on singles by Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira Robinson Cano singled to right field scoring Swisher. Catcher Jorge Posada followed with a single of his own scoring Cano. Posada stole second to set up a second and third, but DH Lance Berkman hit a weak grounder to Lackey who threw Berkman out at first to end the inning.
The Yankees cashed in another run in the 6th when Curtis Granderson singled to right, stole second and later scored on a one out single by Ramiro Pena to right to make the score 5-2.
Sabathia put up zeroes in the 7th and 8th innings bridging the gap to Mariano Rivera to close out the 9th.
Rivera threw an 8 pitch inning getting catcher Victor Martinez to ground out to Teixeira at first, Beltre to fly out to right and Lowell to fly out to Granderson in center to earn his 23rd save of the season.
After the game several Yankees spoke to the press about Sabathia’s performance.
Said manager Joe Girardi referring to Sabathia’s dominating outing, “Tremendous,” Girardi said, “It was what we needed.” Specifically, because the Yankees dropped 2-of-3 to the Toronto Blue Jays before dropping the first game of the four game set against the Red Sox during the Yankees seven game home stand.
Sabathia’s battery mate Posada put it this way. “You have your horse on the mound and you want to win when he’s on the mound. It’s important.”
Sabathia played for two milestones in this game. On Thursday he and his wife welcomed their fourth child, Carter Charles, into the family and Sabathia’s victory was the 150th win of his career. In a twist of irony for the Yankees Sabathia notched his 14th win of the season tying him for the American League lead in victories with David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays and you won’t believe it, Carl Pavano of the Minnesota Twins.
Yeah, THAT Pavano who couldn’t find his way to a Yankees mound for 4 years and $40 million dollars.
Another couple of statistics about Sabathia is that he hasn’t lost in his last 18 starts at Yankee Stadium and is 13-0 over that span. Additionally, Sabathia is 3-0 with a .091 ERA against the Sox in his last four starts.
Sunday’s contest between the Yankees and Red Sox pits the beleaguered Burnett against Josh Beckett. Burnett’s record over the past 10 starts would indicate he has been erratic. In those starts Burnett has allowed no runs in three and over six in four others, including his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays where he allowed eight earned runs.
On the other hand, Beckett since coming off the disabled list on July 23 has seemingly bounced back. In his last start against the Cleveland Indians Beckett allowed only one run and three hits in eight innings of work. However, in his 2010 starts against the Yankees he is 0-1 with a 10.43 ERA.
Miracle or mirage?
Sunday night’s contest, broadcast nationally on ESPN, should answer a lot of questions. Is Burnett the pitcher the Yankees paid $82.5 million over 5 years and is Beckett all the way back from a string of seemingly endless injuries?
Notes: New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was injured during Saturday’s batting practice when Lance Berkman lined a ball at Rodriguez, which stuck him on the left shin sending him to the ground in pain. A-Rod walked off the field under his own power and initial x-rays proved negative for an extensive injury. Rodriguez has been listed as day-to-day.