The Great Sabathia Crisis lasted all of one start, because the big fella was straight nasty tonight. Four innings, one hit, one walk, seven strikeouts. The other five outs he recorded all came on groundballs. The one hit was an infield single off the bat of Jose Tabata that hit the third base bag and popped fifteen feet in air, eliminating any chance of Cody Ransom making a play on it. Sabathia threw 59 pitches, 40 for strikes. I know he was facing half of an NL lineup, but great googley moogley. That was awesome.
As great as CC was, Mariano Rivera was better. Making his first appearance of the spring, Mo struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches. He then induced a weak grounder back that he fielded himself for the second out, and struck out the third batter for crisp 1-2-3 frame that took all of eleven pitches (eight strikes). I know there’s some concern about the 39-yr old Rivera after offseason shoulder surgery, but considering how ridiculously awesome he was last year with the shoulder issue, isn’t there a chance he’ll be even better this year?
Hideki Matsui kicked off the scoring with a two-run double down the line in the first, and he followed that up with a monster homer in the third that was just a few rows shorts of leaving Steinbrenner Field all together. All in all, the Yanks sent eleven runners to the plate in the third, scoring six runs thanks to the Matsui homer and doubles by Mark Teixeira, X(BH) Nady, and Melky Cabrera, plus a two-run base hit by Jorge Posada, who caught five innings with no problems. His arm was tested in the second when ex-Yankees farmhand Jose Tabata stole third; the throw was high and off line, but the pitch was down and a tough one to handle. Most importantly, Posada was fine and had a look of relief on his face after letting one loose for the first time post-surgery.
Edwar Ramirez and Al Aceves finished the game off between rain drops with four combined innings of one run ball; the run coming on a Jeff Salazar solo homer to lead off the ninth. Yankee pitchers struck out twelve Pirates and had a 13-2 GB/FB ratio in the 9-2 win. Pretty good night, I’d say.
Elsewhere in the baseball world, Team USA kept their WBC dream alive thanks to a David Wright walk-off knock. Ya gotta believe.