Coming into Sunday’s game you got the feeling that the Yankees could put the Tigers away, if the Bombers could just get a quality start out of their rotation. Enter one Carsten Charles Sabathia. CC Sabathia wasn’t quite brilliant in his eight inning, eight strike out, two hit, two run performance, but he was dominant, and easily could have gone the distance against the Tigers had the Yankees needed him to. Sabathia’s fastball topped out at 94 mph and was sitting around 91 mph. He was locating it on the corners with ease, and mixing in a nasty slider to put hitters away. From start to finish it was a vintage Sabathia performance, the kind of outing that suggests the big guy is just about ready for lift off. Given how he’s pitched his last two outings Sabathia could easily be about to put together one of his patented strings of brilliant starts. Let’s hope.
Sabathia put the Yankees in a position to win and the offense did the rest, with a little help from Max Scherzer. Curtis Granderson was the closest thing the Yankee offense had to a big star in this one. He had two RBI and hit a home run into the Yankee bullpen. That home run, however, came maybe an inch from being the loudest out I’ve ever seen. Austin Jackson actually had the ball in his glove, over the wall, before his hand banged into a dividing fence, allowing the ball to drop out for a home run. Apart from Granderson, Derek Jeter had a solid game, going two for three (both infield hits) and drawing two walks, while Alex Rodriguez had two RBI.
Max Scherzer was also a key member of the Yankee offense. Scherzer walked seven in just 4.2 innings on 119 pitches. In Scherzer’s defense, he was being squeezed. On one occasion Scherzer dropped what looked like strike three in front of Derek Jeter so convincingly that Derek himself began to walk to the dug out before the pitch was called a ball. While the strike zone was small for both pitchers, Scherzer seemed to put pitches right in the gray area again and again in the early going without much of a plan B. The disappointing calls eventually got to him. He began missing his spots by feet, not inches. Curtis Granderson’s first RBI was a bases loaded walk.
The Yankees added some insurance runs later in the game, but Sabathia only needed a handful of runs to take care of the rest. Prince Fielder knocked an impressive homer to right, but all it did was pad his stats and look good in the replay. The Tigers never led and never gave the impression that they were in this one. The Yankees improved to 12-9 on the season and will next play host to the Baltimore Orioles.
The victory wasn’t all good, unfortunately. The third best Yankee hitter this season has been Nick Swisher. He left the game with a hamstring injury that has been confirmed as a mild strain. He’ll be out for a few games at least. His absence will be felt.
Finally, mercifully, the Yankees have announced that David Phelps will take over Freddy Garcia‘s spot in the rotation. Garcia has been worse than awful this season while Phelps has shown promise as a long reliever. Let’s wish him the best. The Yankees still have holes in the rotation while we wait for Andy Pettitte to return and it’s always fun to see a home grown rookie get a chance to succeed.
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