After looking mostly helpless in Game 3, the bats came alive in Game 4 as the Yankees throttled the Angels, 10-1, increasing the Yankees’ lead in the American League Championship Series 3 games to 1 and putting the team one victory away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 2003. This was the Yankees’ first postseason victory at Anaheim since Game 1 of the 2005 ALDS.
As soothing as it was to see a blowout, the real story of this game was CC Sabathia, who once again pitched like a man on an absolute mission. Despite starting on only three days’ rest, Sabathia was incredible tonight, showing no signs of fatigue whatsover. The final line was similar to his Game 1 opus: 8 innings pitched, 5 strikeouts, 5 hits, 2 walks and 1 earned run, and he actually looked even better and stronger as the game wore on. The only blemish was a Kendry Morales solo shot on a high fastball that Morales really had no business even getting around on. Sabathia’s sterling outing was the Yankees’ 7th quality start in 7 postseason games, which is just fantastic.
As great as Sabathia was, the offense finally broke out of its collective slumber in a big way, led by another huge game from Alex Rodriguez, who went 3-4 with a 2-run home run, double, stolen base and a walk. Alex is now batting an insane .407/.469/1.000 on the postseason with 5 home runs and 11 RBI. The bottom of the order — which looked helpless the last few games — had several big at-bats, led by Melky Cabrera’s 3-4, 4 RBI night, the first two of which came in a huge, game-turning at-bat in the top of the 4th inning. Robbie Cano went 1-4 and scored twice, and also missed out on a second RBI on a baserunning error by Jorge Posada. Nick Swisher went hitless but was walked and hit by a pitch, and scored a run on a sacrifice fly that was taken back on one of several botched calls by the umpires tonight.
Johnny Damon added a big two-run homer in the 8th inning. Mark Teixeira continued to struggle despite picking up his first hit since Game 1. Hideki Matsui had a horrible game and surprisingly looked lost at the plate, going 0-5 with 3 strikeouts.
But overall, it’s impossible to quibble with a 10-1 win, especially when your ace gives you eight strong innings, simultaneously saving the bullpen while not overtaxing himself. You really can’t say enough about Sabathia — limiting a team like the Angels to only 7 baserunners all game while tossing just over 100 pitches is astounding. Somewhat lost amidst this recap is that Chad Gaudin actually got his first postseason action in the bottom of the 9th and pitched a 1-2-3 inning.
The Yankees are now in great position to take this series down on Thursday, with a fully rested bullpen, an offense that’s finally starting to click on all cylinders (and has yet to receive any contributions from Mark Teixeira) and A.J. Burnett, who, while he’s been good, is capable of pitching even better than he has thus far in the 2009 postseason.
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