Tonight’s matchup was between arguably the top two left handed starters in the American League, CC Sabathia and David Price. With an Orioles loss tonight, the winner of this matchup would sit a top the America League East in first place, while the other fell to third. The last time these two met up wasn’t so long ago, less than a month, a May 10th start that had Sabathia giving up 2 unearned runs and earning 10 strikeouts to Price’s 5 earned runs and 11 hits. The way the Yankees have hit Price in his recent matchups encouraged the dreams of first place, and I don’t think anyone expected Sabathia to get hit by the Ray’s current offense. No matter how well Price has pitched, when the Yankees are as hot as they are, you always expect them to win.
The game started with a nice easy two strikeout inning for Sabathia. Price had less luck, who faced a two men on jam with two outs after an error and single from Mark Teixeira. Robinson Cano had another big runner in scoring position opportunity and hit a scorching groundball that Elliot Johnson just managed to get a glove on and (with a little help from the umpire) throw out Cano at first.
The second inning would show some holes in both of tonight’s pitchers. After giving up a lead off double to BJ Upton, Sabathia looked like he might get out of the inning without any runs before a two out rbi bloop single off the bat of Jose Lobaton. Price would also give up a run in his half of the second. In another men on first and second jam, this time with no outs, the Yankees were only able to score a run off a Chris Stewart ground out.
Sabathia began the third with a strikeout, but then had to deal with a runner at second after Arod threw the ball away on a routine groundout to third base. With a pitcher’s duel in the Bronx, the Yankees needed their ace to bailout their infield, but he instead allowed a single and double respectively to Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings, giving the Rays a 3-1 lead. He would again allow two runs in the fourth, and it might be the incredible Rays defense, but the Yankees fielders looked like 8 chickens with their heads cut off. After two slow groundballs through the infield, this happened.
Following the two runs he gave up in the fourth inning, Sabathia went on to pitch three more shutout innings, only allowing one walk. His final line on the night was 7.0 innings, 7 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned, 1 walk, and 12 strikeouts (!).
Meanwhile, the Yankees had all the opportunities to score with runners in scoring position and yet again couldn’t get it done. In the fifth inning, Stewart led the inning off with a single, which was followed by a walk to Derek Jeter. With no outs and runners in scoring position, Curtis Granderson struck out, which was followed by a walk to Teixeira to load the bases. With Arod up in a bases loaded and only one out jam, I thought for sure that the RISP trouble would end with some sort of redemption for the 2 unearned runs he helped create in the third. Arod’s at bat is something you could write a book about, a strategic masterpiece 11 pitch appearances that saw the beloved Rodriguez striking out on a 79 mph curveball. Even though Cano would finish off the inning without the big hit, Yankees hitters had knocked David Price out of the game with 109 pitches.
Cody Eppley relieved Sabathia in the 8th inning, and allowed a single followed by a groundball double play with only 3 pitches. Clay Rapada then faced Carlos Pena, who promptly popped up on the first pitch. It was 4 total pitches in the top half of the 8th, so close to that rare 3 pitch inning! The 9th wasn’t as much fun, when Clay Rapada allowed a walk and a groundball, Cory Wade came in and stunk up the Bronx. After a double to Drew Sutton, he allowed a line drive hit to Nick Swisher… who kicked the ball away. When I say the Yankees looked bad defensively, I mean it.
The Yankees offense wouldn’t make noise again until the 8th inning, where with two outs and two men on, Raul Ibanez finally got a line drive to shallow center field driving in the second Yankee run of the game. It didn’t amount to any sort of rally, but in the 9th Russell Martin led the inning off with a promising homerun. (He’s now 10 for 27 (.370) with 3 homeruns!) The rest of the inning was pretty quiet, aside from a Teixeira hit by pitch. All-in-all, no one had a good day at the plate, except for maybe Martin. The whole team went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position, but Granderson had the worst night, going 0 for 5 with 4 strikeouts and leaving 4 men on base. Tonight made the team look much worse than they’ve been playing in recent days, so at least they have a 2-1 series win to flaunt entering the Mets subway series tomorrow.
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