After looking so good coming out of the All-Star Break, the Yankees have looked slow and sloppy over the past three games. It does happen, even to the best teams. The Red Sox just got over one such period, when their offense failed and they just couldn’t do anything right. The difference here is that the Yankees offense is working — they did have eight hits yesterday and 12 on Friday — but they’re just not knocking them in while on base. That, and the pitching has completely blown up.
They’ll try to right the ship today by
not starting Cody Ransom sending out CC Sabathia. The big lefty could use a big start today after his poor showing on Tuesday in Tampa, and the Yankees could use it after the past two performances.
Having spent most of his career in the AL Central, CC has seen plenty of the White Sox. For his career he’s 14-4 with a 3.65 ERA over 165 innings. However, plenty has changed since Sabathia’s debut in 2002. He’s a different pitcher, and the White Sox are a completely different team (obviously). He didn’t fare too well against them in 2008, allowing 11 runs over 20.1 innings, though that was mostly due to a ridiculous six homers allowed in that span, a rarity for CC. 2007 was more like it, when he allowed just six runs over 21 IP, because he allowed just two homers.
You might have heard a bit about the myth of Mark Buehrle. After all, he did retire 45 straight batters, a major league record, and happen to pitch a full perfect game among them. After the perfecto he sat down the first 17 Twins batters he faced, but faded after that. A walk, single, and ground rule double broke up the perfect game, no hitter, and shutout in a span of three batters. Trouble continued in the seventh, with a HBP, single, single, sacrifice, single, leading to four runs. Octavio Dotel would walk Justin Morneau with the bases loaded to hand Buehrle his fifth earned run of the game.
So yes, Mark Buehrle is good. He survives with great control, walking so few batters that it masks a low strikeout rate. The real key to his success this year is that he’s allowed fewer hits than innings pitched. Retiring 45 straight batters will do that for your stats. He’s never allowed fewer hits than innings pitched since 2002, when he allowed 236 hits in 239 innings.
I hate to put a must-win label on any game, lest the Yankees fall into the trap they did last summer against the Red Sox, or the one Tampa Bay put themselves into last week. Yet they pretty much have to win this one. Getting swept going into an off-day with A Boston on Toronto sandwich coming up? Yeah, might want to win this one.
And on the mound, number fifth-two, CC Sabathia.