Results tagged ‘ CC Sabathia ’

One bad inning sinks Sabathia

For five innings Friday night, CC Sabathia was pitching as the ace that Yankees fans have come to appreciate. With a fastball that was in the 90-miles-per-hour range and a devastating slider, the big lefthander held the Red Sox in check. He limited them to one hit and two walks, struck out six batters and got eight other outs in the infield.

It was not vintage Sabathia from his Cy Young Award days when the fastball was more muscular, but it was a cagier and slyer Sabathia who had Boston hitters guessing and oft times wrong. The lone hit to that point was a leadoff double by Red Sox catcher David Ross in the third inning. Sabathia retired the next three batters on ground balls to prevent Ross from scoring.

Then came the sixth inning, and everything went wrong for the big guy. Jonny Gomes led off with a home run off a 1-0 fastball that tied the score. Alfonso Soriano had given CC a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a home run off Jon Lester.

After striking out Dustin Pedroia, Sabathia gave up a single to David Ortiz on an excuse-me, half-swing of a dribbler to the vacated left side of the infield as the Yankees were employing an over-shift on Big Papi. Mike Napoli singled on a soft line drove to center field, but there was nothing soft about Grady Sizemore’s drive off a hanging slider on 0-1 that reached the second deck in right field for a demoralizing, three-run homer.

“I thought he had good command and threw the ball decent,” manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia. “He hung a slider, and Sizemore did not miss it. One pitch in a tight game sometimes it’s going to beat you.”

No one welcomed the offensive display more than Lester, who before that inning had watched his teammates score merely one run in his first 19 1/3 innings on the mound this year, which explains why he entered the game with a record of 0-2 despite a 2.51 ERA.

The Yankees tried to get Sabathia off the hook with a two-out rally in the seventh but got only one run on a Kelly Johnson single that chased Lester.

Sabathia’s ERA actually came down from 7.50 but is still an unseemly 6.63 after three starts as his record fell to 1-2. His nine strikeouts lifted his total with the Yankees to 1,017, which moved him past Roger Clemens into 10th place on the franchise’s career list. Next up in ninth place at 1,028 is Al Downing.

Yankees take control in first inning

It was a positive sign for the Yankees to break out of the gate early Sunday. They had been pushed around in first innings to the tune of 7-2 in the first five games of the season. Sunday at Toronto, they gave CC Sabathia a 3-0 lead before he took the mound even though they had only one hit in the first inning.

That hit was a two-out, two-run double by Kelly Johnson that climaxed a rally fueled by two walks and a hit batter off Drew Hutchison, who had pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a winning first start last week.

The Blue Jays answered back with a run in the bottom of the first on a leadoff home run by Melky Cabrera, the third homer of the series for the former Yankees outfielder. Sabathia had given up four runs in the first inning in his Opening Day start last week at Houston.

Derek Jeter made history with a leadoff single in the third inning. It was career hit No. 3,319 for DJ, who tied Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for eighth place on the all-time list. Jeter moved past Molitor with a single in the fourth for No. 3,320.

“To have the most hits for the most prestigious franchise in professional sports is pretty special,” Molitor told me back in 2011 when Jeter reached 3,000 hits. “Getting 3,000 hits is as much a product of longevity as ability. If Derek stays healthy, he has a good chance to rack up a lot more hits.”

Rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte has multi-hit games in each of his first three career starts to become the first Yankees player to accomplish the feat since Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio from May 3-6, 1936 (also three games), according to the Elias Sport Bureau. Solarte entered play leading the Yankees in hits (7), doubles (3), extra-base hits (3), RBI (4), on-base percentage (.600), slugging percentage (.769) and OPS (1.369).

Solarte picked up his fourth double and fifth RBI of the season with one out in the fourth and then scored on the Yankees’ first home run of the season. Brett Gardner ended the drought with a drive to right off a 3-2 pitch that chased Hutchison.

No chance for closer in this opener

None of us expected the Yankees to go 162-0 this year, but the 6-2 loss in Tuesday night’s season opener to the lowly Astros started things off with a thud. The Yanks were six runs in the hole after the first two innings and while Houston was shut out the rest of the way the Yankees could not climb out of it.

A surprisingly effective Scott Feldman took a one-hit shutout into the seventh for the Astros, who won only 51 games last year. A sellout crowd of 42,117 at Minute Maid Park that included Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan and former President George H.W. Bush witnessed another dismal Opening Day effort by CC Sabathia.

The trimmed-down lefthander admitted afterward that his motor was running a bit too much early on as the Astros jumped him for six runs and six hits, including home runs by those household names Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes, in the first two frames. Sabathia eventually settled down and allowed only two singles over the next five innings long after the barn door was closed.

Opening Day has seldom gone smoothly for Sabathia, whose career mark in lid-lifters is 1-3 with a 6.17 ERA. With the Yankees, CC has been even worse in Opening Day starts — 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA.

The Yankees escaped first-inning scares when Derek Jeter and Brian McCann sustained hand injuries that turned out minor. Jeter had one of the Yankees’ six hits. So did McCann, who drove in his first run with his team team with a single in the seventh. Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI single to left crossing up an over-shift, which was a good sign.

Jeter and Teixeira were hurt at this time a year ago and with all the newcomers Brett Gardner was the only player other than Sabathia from the 2013 opener in the starting lineup. New right fielder Carlos Beltran had the Yankees’ first hit, a single in the fourth. New center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury reached base once in five plate appearances with a walk.

There certainly was not much to write home about. Dellin Betances may have been the highlight for the Yankees with a scoreless inning of two-strikeout relief. With David Robertson succeeding the retired Mariano Rivera in the closer role, there is the need for a setup reliever to emerge. Betances worked the seventh inning in the opener but continued impressive work could move him into the setup picture.

There would be no save opportunity for D-Rob in this one, however.

Stumbling out of the gate

After the first inning Tuesday night at Houston, the Yankees had nowhere to go but up. A nasty omen was Derek Jeter, who became the first player to appear in 20 seasons for the Yankees, getting hit in the left hand by a pitch from Scott Feldman. DJ took his base and later his position in the field as the Yankees breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The more damaging hits were by the Astros off CC Sabathia in the bottom half of the first. The big lefthander’s decreasing velocity last year and again this spring has been a cause of concern for the Yankees. With a fastball barely clicking 90 mph on the radar gun, Sabathia was roughed up for four runs.

A leadoff double by Dexter Fowler set the tone. Jose Altuve singled Fowler home and promptly stole second base. A wild pitch by Sabathia proved damaging as Altuve crossed to third from where he scored on a fielder’s choice. Mark Teixeira’s throw to the plate left something to be desired as the Yankees looked out of synch.

Jesus Guzman then crushed a first-pitch fastball to left for a two-run home run. CC was touched for a leadoff homer in the second by L.J. Hoes and another run on yet another combination of a Fowler double and Altuve single. The Yankees did not get their first hit until Carlos Beltran singled to left with one out in the fourth.

Sabathia missed latest date with Price

CC Sabathia’s hamstring injury that has terminated the season prevented another matchup against the Rays’ David Price. The two former Cy Young Award winners have been paired against each other on a regular basis.

Sabathia’s last start was Friday night at Yankee Stadium against the Giants in which he pitched seven innings plus one batter and got the victory thanks to Alex Rodriguez’s record 24th career grand slam that unlocked a 1-1 score in the bottom of the seventh. CC somehow pitched into the eighth inning despite straining his left hammy in the second inning.

Had he not been hurt and stayed on turn in the rotation, Sabathia would have been scheduled to start for the Yankees Wednesday night against Tampa Bay and his fellow lefthander. Perhaps CC would just as soon avoid Price, whose most recent victory was Aug. 24 against Sabathia and the Yankees at Tropicana Field.

It was the ninth time Price and Sabathia squared off against each other. The Rays have won eight of those games with Price putting up a 6-1 record and 2.68 ERA in 59 2/3 innings. Nine of his 20 career starts against the Yankees have come against Sabathia.

Sabathia vows to come back strong in 2014

The Yankees’ slim hopes of making the playoffs have been dealt a further blow with the loss of CC Sabathia for the remainder of the season. He sustained a Grade 2 left hamstring strain, which requires a recovery time of eight weeks, during Friday night’s 5-1 victory over the Giants. The amazing part is that Sabathia felt the strain as early as the second inning and still he pitched into the eighth and after the game told manager Joe Girardi he expected to make his next start. That was the adrenalin talking, of course. Once the strain was discovered, Sabathia was shut down for the rest of the way.

“It’s frustrating,” Sabathia said. “It came at a time when I felt I was going in the right direction.”

The 2013 season was something of a roller coaster for Sabathia, who finished with a 14-13 record and a 4.78 ERA, the highest of his career. The lefthander did not mince words when summing up his season.

“I had a bad year,” he said.

Well, that’s a bit harsh. What Sabathia had was an inconsistent season, one in which he could not take success from start to start as he had in the past during a career that included his winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2006 with the Indians and in five years with the Yankees that included an World Series championship in 2009.

“I didn’t grind it out the way I have in the past,” he said. “I gave up too many leads. Our guys would come back against a good pitcher, and I’d give back the lead the next inning. If I could have given Hiro [Hiroki Kuroda] more help, we’d be in a better position than we are now.”

In that last sentence, Sabathia acknowledged that he lost the staff ace designation to Kuroda at some point during the season, a position he hopes to regain in 2014.

“I had different issues; it wasn’t just one thing,” he said. “Earlier in the year, it was arm angle, not getting my elbow up. Another part of it was being stubborn, not wanting to change. I was never one to look at videos. I had to change my approach and started doing that to study hitters’ tendencies. I fell into a pattern where I was pitching people the same way. My preparation for the game needs to be better. I felt like I let my teammates down this year. I intend to work hard over the winter and next spring to go back to being the pitcher I was when I signed here.”

A-Rod helps Yankees to a ‘grand’ victory

The Yankees keep coming off the mat. After a 4-6 trip that included two losses in three games to the last-place Blue Jays, the Yankees opened the final homestand of the season in a big way with a 5-1 victory over the Giants, who are trying to stay out of last place the year after winning the World Series.

The matchup of a pair of former Cy Young Award winners, CC Sabathia and Tim Lincecum, had the potential to be a riveting a game, which it was for six innings. The Yankees broke it open in the bottom of the seventh on a record-breaking grand slam by Alex Rodriguez. Lincecum was out of the game by then, but he had put the three runners A-Rod drove home on base. Hitting Brendan Ryan with a pitch was a huge blunder by Lincecum. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s failure to complete a double play on a grounder to third by J.R. Murphy kept the inning alive, and Lincecum dug himself in deeper by walking Ichiro Suzuki.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy replaced Lincecum at that point by George Kontos, who may be a familiar name to Yankees fans. The righthander was the Yankees’ fifth-round draft choice out of Northwestern University in 2006 and pitched in seven games for them in 2011. He went to the Giants in April 2012 in the trade for catcher Chris Stewart.

Rodriguez, who had one hit in his previous 25 at-bats, was certainly overdue. He batted. 182 on the trip but did have two home runs. A-Rod drove a 2-1 fastball to right field that made a 1-1 game 5-1 Yankees lead that held up in the steady hands of David Robertson in the eighth and Mariano Rivera in a non-save situation in the ninth.

The 654th career home run for Rodriguez was his 24th with the bases loaded. That broke the tie he had for most grand slams with Lou Gehrig. This was one of those records I thought when I was a kid would never be broken.

Of course, I thought the same thing about Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 games, Babe Ruth’s home run records for one season (60) and career (714), Ty Cobb’s stolen-base marks for one season (96) and career (897), Cobb’s career standard for hits (4,189) and George Sisler’s mark for hits in a season (257).

They are all gone.

This was a record set not in some obscure game in the middle of the season but during a game in the last week for a team that is trying to win a playoff spot under increasingly difficult odds.

Sabathia bounced back after two straight losses with one of his best games of the season. This was a tight game for nearly all the time he was in it. He gave up seven hits and three walks but was helped by a couple of double plays. The Yanks turned a third double play in the eighth behind Robertson after he entered the game following a leadoff single off Sabathia.

The Yankees still need some help from other teams to make their way through this wild-card maize, but for one night at least they helped themselves.

A sorry day for Sori-less Yankees

The Yankees were in trouble Saturday before they even took the field at Fenway Park. Once again – and how often has this happened this year? – a player was scratched from the lineup due to injury. Not just any player, either. Down this time was none other than Alfonso Soriano, the offensive force who has been at the center of the team’s renaissance the past six weeks.

Soriano was unavailable because of a sprained right thumb, which he sustained while making a diving catch Thursday night at Baltimore. He played Friday night but aggravated the condition and could not grip a bat Saturday. X-rays were negative, which was a good sign. A not so good sign, however, was that the thumb was worse Saturday than it was Friday night.

Without Soriano, Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to add another left-handed hitter, Ichiro Suzuki, as an outfielder in the batting order against lefthander Jon Lester (14-8), who pitched eight solid innings for the Red Sox. Ironically, two of the Yankees’ three hits were by a left-handed hitter, Curtis Granderson, who tripled and doubled.

Granderson batted out of the leadoff spot the past two games in place of regular center fielder Brett Gardner, who could be lost for the remainder of the regular season because of a left oblique strain. Shortstop Derek Jeter is also gone for the rest of the regular season due to lingering issues with his surgical left ankle.

Yes, the Yankees are pretty beat up, which they have been much of the season. It has been a medical nightmare for them. I teased trainer Steve Donohue the other day that the club must have run out of tape before the All-Star break. Referring to former head trainer Gene Monahan, Stevie said, “Geno sure picked the right time to retire.”

CC Sabathia got beat up Saturday as well. Boston did not enjoy a slugfest but did tag Sabathia (13-13) for five earned runs, nine hits and four walks in six innings. Five different players drove in runs for the Red Sox. CC had another troubling season against the Red Sox. He was 2-2 but had a 7.22 ERA in 28 2/3 innings, including 1-1 with a 9.92 ERA in 16 1/3 innings at Fenway Park.

Conversely, Lester was 2-1 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 1/3 innings against the Yankees this year. Of the 24 outs Lester recorded Saturday, 16 were in the infield and five were on strikeouts. The Yankees’ only run scored on an infield out as they were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. The 2-through-6 hitters were a combined 0-for-18.

Pitchers stifled because of managers’ scrap?

Someone will have to explain to me what CC Sabathia and Chris Tillman had to do with the beef between their managers, the Yankees’ Joe Girardi and the Orioles’ Buck Showalter, at the end of the first inning Monday night in the opener of a crucial four-game series between the American League wild-card playoff berth foes at Camden Yards.

The shouting match between the skippers apparently was over Girardi’s admonishing Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson for reasons the Yankees manager did not specify after the game only to say that he has always been dedicated to defending his players. One can only assume the player he was defending was catcher Austin Romine after hearing Showalter’s post-game remarks that the issue may have been sign stealing or signaling pitch location.

Well, it all made for interesting theater and little else. So what was the point of plate umpire Ed Hickox issuing warnings to the pitchers? What did Sabathia and Tillman have to do with all this? Here is a pivotal game between a couple of postseason candidates and the pitchers are neutralized for no good reason.

Camden Yards is a home-run haven that requires pitchers to use every inch of the plate and they are told from practically the start of the game that they work the inner half at their peril. What a joke.

Despite this limitation, both starters worked deeply into the game. Sabathia was provided a 1-0 lead before he took the mound on a home run by Alex Rodriguez. But for the 12th time this season, CC gave up a lead as the Orioles tied the score with a run in the bottom half of the first on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.

The pitchers exchanged zeroes until the fifth when another sacrifice fly, by J.J. Hardy, put the Orioles ahead. Baltimore picked up an additional run thanks to the legs of Alexi Casilla. He singled with two out and stole second from where he scored on a single by Nick Markakis, one of his three hits in the game.

Sabathia hurt himself in the eighth with a throwing error that helped the Orioles to another run on a two-out double by Manny Machado. Lyle Overbay’s 14th home run leading off the eighth inning ended Tillman’s stretch of 14 consecutive outs and his outing as well. Tommy Hunter struck out the next three innings.

The Yankees got the tying run to the plate after Rodriguez led off the ninth with a single, but Jim Johnson withstood a warning-track drive by Curtis Granderson to get his 43rd save.

It was not the way the Yankees wanted to start the series. They fell three games behind the Rays for the second wild card and 1 ½ games behind the Orioles and Indians with only a one-game edge over the Royals.

One pair of Sox down, one more to go

Touché!

The Yankees paid the White Sox back for that miserable three-game sweep a month ago at Chicago by returning the favor at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks’ futility at U.S. Cellular Field marked the low point of the season. They left there only one game over .500 (57-56) but have played .692 ball since (18-8) and are 11 games over at 75-64 as they continue to push for a high point of the season, a postseason berth.

What better way to go into a four-game showdown with the Red Sox at the Stadium beginning Thursday night than to dust off an inferior opponent even if things got a bit dicey in the later innings? The Yanks watched a 6-1 lead behind a good outing by CC Sabathia (13-11) shrink to 6-5 by the eighth inning before Mariano Rivera settled matters with his first four-out save in two years.

Mo’s 41st save this season and career No. 649 complimented a sturdy offensive attack by the Yankees, who had another crooked-number inning that have become more regular these days. It was a four-run fourth against rookie righthander Eric Johnson in his big-league debut that put the Yankees in control. Johnson contributed to the rally with a throwing error. The big blow was a two-run triple by Brett Gardner after Lyle Overbay’s RBI single had put the Yanks ahead. Robinson Cano, who homered (No. 26) in the first inning, drove in the fourth run of the fourth with an infield single in a three-hit, two-RBI game.

Alfonso Soriano’s 40th RBI in 37 games with the Yankees on a sacrifice fly in the seventh seemed a tack-on run at the time but proved the game decider when the White Sox put together a four-run inning of their own the next inning.

Sabathia pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in five starts. He left with one out and a couple of runners on base, both of whom scored as David Robertson had a rollercoaster inning that required Rivera’s parachute as the White Sox closed to one run. Mo stranded two runners by striking out Alejandro De Aza looking and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

No wonder manager Joe Girardi wants him back next year.

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