Sabathia, Yanks roll in rain shortened contest


For the first time in 2010, the Yankees on Friday night played a team that hasn’t appeared in an American League Championship Series within the last two seasons. The Rangers haven’t made the playoffs in over a decade, but they’re a formidable opponent that features the league’s hottest hitter and some of the best young arms in the game. Luckily for the Yanks, they had their best on the mound to keep the hot start going as the team won a game shortened by rain 5-1.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Biggest Play: Curtis Granderson reaches on a fielder’s choice

All during the postseason, we saw the supposedly fundamentally sound Twins and Angels shoot themselves in the foot with botched plays game after game, and the same was true on Friday. Granderson stepped to the plate against lefty C.J. Wilson in the 4th inning with the bases juiced and the score tied at one. He fell behind 0-2 on fastballs before a third heater missed the zone for a ball. The fourth pitch was a slider that dove down, but Granderson got enough of it to tap it towards first. Long story short, Chris Davis threw the ball away as he attempted to turn the 3-6-3 double play (photo above), resulting in two runs for the Bombers.

As good as CC Sabathia was in this game (we’ll get to that a little later), Wilson matched him up until the 4th inning, and before the frame was over the Yankees led 4-1. With rain in the forecast and Sabathia on his game, that lead might as well have been 30.

Biggest Out: Nelson Cruz goes down on strikes

I’m going to go against the WPA grain here to say that Cruz’s backwards K to end the first was the biggest out of the night. Texas pushed across a run for a first inning lead when Vlad Guerrero drove in Michael Young on a sac fly, which brought the America League leader in homers (six), RBI (12), SLG (1.063), and OPS (1.510) to the plate with a man on second with two outs.

If Sabathia makes a mistake, there’s a very good chance the Yankees could have been down three runs before even coming to the plate, which changes everything. Instead, he got Cruz to foul off both a fastball and a changeup on the outer half for a quick 0-2 count, but couldn’t get him to commit to a slider and changeup in the dirt for the strikeout, so the count went even at 2-2. Cruz is a free swinger, but Sabathia and Frankie Cervelli didn’t mess around by trying to get him to chase something out of the zone, they went with the old reliable number one, pouring a 92 mph heater on the inside for a called strike three. The early threat was neutralized, the Yankees were down just one, and Sabathia would never look back.

For the record, WPA says that Michael Young’s fielder’s choice that saw Julio Borbon forced out at second with no outs in the 6th was the biggest out recorded by Sabathia on the night.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Carsten Charles In Charge

The only thing that could stop the Yankees’ ace tonight was Mother Nature. CC Sabathia rolled right through the Rangers’ lineup after the first inning, striking out six in a row from the 2nd through 4th innings, and retiring 12 in a row from the 2nd through 5th. He threw 61 pitches through the first five innings, just 11 of which were balls.

Rain forced Sabathia from the game after just six innings and 73 pitches (58 strikes, 79.5%), which might not have been the worst thing in the world considering his massive workload last season. Every little break helps. Of the 22 batters Sabathia faced, not one saw a three ball count, and just five worked a two ball count. Only two got a first pitch ball. Two! Take a look at this strike zone plot, that’s what pounding the zone looks like.

CC struck out nine or more five times last year, but the first instance didn’t come until August 8th. He beat that by nearly four months this year. His initials stood for cruise control on Friday night, he had it all working and threw everything for strikes. Over his last two starts, Sabathia’s allowed just six baserunners (four hits, two walks) and one run in 13.2 IP with 14 strikeouts. I thought this guy was supposed to struggle in April?

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Happy Moments

It’s so easy to like Cervelli with his big doofy helmet and all out hustle and infectious energy, so it was fun to see him single in a run after Granderson’s fielder’s choice.

Brett Gardner stealing second on a pitch out. Fastest white guy in America. Granderson fouled off six pitches in an 11 pitch at-bat just prior to Gardner’s steal, which qualifies for one hell of an at-bat. Considering it was against a lefty, it’s even more impressive.

This win combined with the Blue Jays’ loss to the Angels gives the Yankees sole possession of first place in the AL East, and they’re tied with the Twins for the best record in the AL.

Annoying moments

There’s not much that could have bothered even the most pessimistic of fans this game. Nick Johnson got thrown out on a straight steal to end the 3rd, but the replay showed he was either safe, or damn close to it. That’s about it.

Oh, wait. What the hell Robbie Cano? Just one measly single tonight? That’s not going to cut it. He obviously needs Melky Cabrera or Larry Bowa or Mike Borzello.

WPA Graph

You can get the full breakdown at FanGraphs’ box score.

Next Up

Quick turn around, as these two teams are back at it tomorrow afternoon at 1:05pm ET. A.J. Burnett goes for the good guys, Scott Feldman for the Rangers.

Categories : Game Stories


  1. BigBlueAL says:

    Best news about the Saturday afternoon game, its on the MLB package!!!! Finally no longer blacking out early afternoon Saturday games as long as it starts 3 hours before the Fox game which thankfully usually start at 4 so I should be able to watch most of the Yankee Saturday afternoon games which arent on Fox.

    BTW the Rangers offense has been awful so far this season.

    • Pat D says:

      Wait, does this mean I’ll be able to see the game here in PA on YES through DirecTV? That’d be sweet.

      • JobaTheHeat62 says:

        yea that would be very sweet…i loathe saturday day games, it seems like for the 3 years i have had the mlb package i’ve seen about 4 saturday games, all others have been blacked out. fuck fox…everything about them from there news to the sportscasters is ridiculous.

  2. Salty Buggah says:

    Granderson’s approach against LHP looks pretty good lately, though he still kinda strikes my amateur scout’s eye as just a bit awkward (but it might just be his batting style, which is somewhat weird). Overall, however, I love what I’m seeing.

    (Extreme SSS alert)

    • Justin Beaver says:

      Agreed. Based on what I heard and read from reports and articles during the off-season, I thought he would look a lot more ‘lost’ at the plate, but so far so good for grandy.

      Also, I was hoping earlier for the Grandy Granny Slam. But meh, it could wait and happen against the BoSox, which would be a lot, grander. :D

    • radnom says:

      (Extreme SSS alert)

      Sample sizes only apply to statistics, not scouting observations. Granderson has clearly changed up his approach for last season, let’s hope it works over the course of the season.

      • Salty Buggah says:

        Sample sizes only apply to statistics, not scouting observations.

        Really? I think they do. You cannot make any definitive statement on a player’s ability using only 10 games. Sometimes a whole season isn’t even enough. If he is improved against LHP this year and gets better results(and really, he can’t do much worse than last year), we can probably safely say he actually improved. But it might be a fluke and he can revert to 09 levels the next year.

        At the very least, I think you need at least half a season to make an good observation, but a whole year is probably more ideal.

        • radnom says:

          You are missing the point.

          Saying “Granderson is fairing better against lefties this year because of a changed approach” would actually be talking statistics – specifically, his results. It would be silly to say something like that after 10 games.

          However, simply noting and analyzing the potential of a mechanical change in Granderson’s approach is different. You can’t draw any conclusions on results so far (see above) but you can certainly speculate on how this change will affect his overall ability. I didn’t interpreted your original post as simply analyzing the new approach, which is why I said the sample size is not really any issue. If you were indeed making assumptions based on the results so far, then so it is.

  3. pollo says:

    To whoever runs the RAB twitter — yes, they played Sinatra after the game was called.

    • Dirty Pena says:

      Heh. I was down in Tampa for Spring Training, and there was a game against the Braves that got delayed for about 90 minutes before ultimately being called. They played Sinatra once it was called.

    • That was my question. I guess they have to. Someone asked me if Sterling did the warble after announcing that the game had been called. I enjoyed that response.

  4. Hughesus Christo says:

    Granderson might be my second favorite Yankee already.

    1. The Jeter
    2. Grandy? Hughesus? CCy? Robbie? Mo? Alex? Tex?
    -other people-
    -HUGE GAP-
    25. Mitre

    It’s fun to root for a likable team.

  5. bexarama says:

    CC looked awesome tonight. I’m always happy for a win but I was almost sorta sad the game was called (though not really, cuz when he stumbled off the mound – and still got a swinging strike!!! – I had a heart attack) because watching him dominate was so fun.

    • Dalelama says:

      And hey Nick Johnson got a walk….LOL

      • bexarama says:

        :: astonished stare ::

        Seriously? This is like how after the near no-hitter by CC on a day when the Yankees scored 10 runs, you were complaining about Nick Johnson taking a walk. Which isn’t even a bad thing!!

        • Dirty Pena says:

          Wait that actually happened?

        • Dalelama says:

          I just find a designated hitter who cant hit an unique concept…he is fortunate to have his reputation as I swear he gets more strikes called balls than anyone…it looked like 3 out of the four balls were strikes…i just like to bust on NJ because we gave up a true warrior in Matsui and replaced him with someone who success is tied to the poor eyesight of MLB umpires

          • Dirty Pena says:

            Please back up your asinine opinion with some sort of evidence.

            • bexarama says:


              “True Warrior” who couldn’t play the outfield any more and spent a good portion of 2008 on the DL. I like Matsui too but darn near every post you have is embarrassing. You also have an insane anti-NJ bias that you should stop, because it’s also embarrassing and all you do after Yankee wins or losses is whine about him. The Yankees could win 75-0 and you’d be here complaining about how he took four walks.

          • Dirty Pena says:

            I just looked at some previous posts, I didn’t realize (but I guess should have assumed) you’re just an idiot. Sorry. Carry on.

          • JobaTheHeat62 says:

            I don’t care if his position is bullpen coach, anyone that can double the walks of an entire baseball team (Astros as of yesterdays games) is a badass…He has like 4 hits and his OBP is .450…Thats ridiculous, and once TEX joins the team this offense is going to explode. Big Papi is a DH and he is an embarrassment, so we have far from the worst DH.

  6. Cecala says:

    I almost pooped my pants when Johnson got hit in the arm. It also was an awful game to actually attend. It was extremely cold and then the rain, my girlfriend was pissed at me because shes a Met fan and I made her come and it rained.

  7. Pat D says:

    C.J. Wilson was just in the MLB Tonight studio on MLB Network and they reviewed the Granderson at bat. That 0-2 pitch sure looked like a strike to me. But Mitch Williams was practically rising our of his chair ready to go hunt down the home plate umpire. I’d have taken his humble critcism seriously if he didn’t really come off as sucking up to Wilson.

    That’s why I just can’t take MLB Network too seriously. Mitch Williams.

    • bexarama says:

      it’s a pretty good reason. Him and Harold Reynolds. And Peter Gammons.

      CJ wasn’t dealing like CC, but he definitely pitched better than five runs in six innings. The defense behind him was embarrassing. There were a number of plays that weren’t called errors that really should have been (wooooo counting stats).

      • Pat D says:

        I liked Harold Reynolds when he was on Baseball Tonight, but he seems to have become very…childish, I guess is the best word, since he’s been on MLB.

        I’m not afraid to admit I used to like Gammons. Then about 4-5 years ago, or whenever he had that health issue and he turned back into a Red Sox homer, he became largely intolerable. But even so I felt that he was fair to the Yankees during that time. Still, he’s not much of an objective journalist anymore.

        Also, that raises a good point. Who’s become a bigger homer over the last several years: Gammons or Jayson Stark? Stark became dead to me when he wrote that Overrated/Underrated player book and he rated Dave Winfield the most overrated RF of all time.

        • Dirty Pena says:

          Then about 4-5 years ago, or whenever he had that health issue right around October 2004 and he turned back into a Red Sox homer,

          • Pat D says:

            Yea, it might have been around then. I really don’t care enough to remember. I’m still trying to pretend that October 2004 didn’t happen until it is possible to have the memories surgically removed.

          • bexarama says:

            Oh I used to like Gammons too. He was a great reporter who kept his Sox bias out of things. He’s an okay reporter now, but he’s such a homer it’s friggin’ ridiculous. I actually think he’s pretty fair to the Yankees, he just turns into some squealing six-year-old boy at Fenway Park when it comes to talking about Pedroia, Varitek, Beckett, Bard, or any Sox prospects.

            Gammons is definitely a bigger homer. Stark was mostly quiet until 2008ish.

            • Pat D says:

              Which is what I think makes Stark’s homerism more offensive. Hops back on the bandwagon as the Phils run to a World Series.

              That’s why I like guys like Buster Olney, Keith Law and Rob Neyer. They’re fair and their writing is interesting. Sure, Neyer doesn’t like the Yankees. But he’s always said that and he posts a lot about the Yankees and he’s usually good and fair with his analysis.

              Tim Kurkjian has always maintained his objectivity, too.

              • bexarama says:

                That makes sense about Stark… I think Gammons’ constant overhyping of Boston prospects just really, really annoys me. Like, there was some article a little while ago about the “young guns” (I hate that phrase for some reason) in the AL East, and he basically wrote off the Rays’ pitching and Joba and Hughes… and then you could hear him heavy-breathing about Buchholz and Casey Kelly.

                I don’t mind Olney, Law, or Neyer. Haven’t seen much of Kurkjian because ESPN is generally terrible.

              • bexarama says:

                oh and re: Reynolds, the sexual harassment thing frankly makes me a little uneasy, though who knows exactly what happened there. Anyway, he’s just annoying and dumb and he’s annoyingly obsessed with Ichiro (also, wow, Ichiro after tonight .261/.306/.283). Jeter to an extent, too, but less so.

    • Beef Hammerdong says:

      Mitch was slurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrping Wilson. No gag reflex.

      I agree, Pat. If you want to “breakdown” egregious umpiring, your focus should be fairness and not partiality to whichever pitcher that was nearby who didn’t have better shit to do after the game.

  8. Salty Buggah says:

    I’ve got one more annoying moment for you, though it’s not necessarily for this game:

    Now that CC has been dominant with Cervelli catching, people are going to want him to be his personal catcher. I already noticed several on Twitter (I know, I know, a lot of them don’t know what they’re saying and the typical B-Jobber types but that’s probably how the majority of Yanks fans are) say how CC should be caught by Cervelli every start. Their opinion shouldn’t mean much but that’s how it started with AJ and Molina last year. I am really afraid that the media is going to now emphasize this and then Girardi, as much as I trust him, will employ Frankie as CC’s personal catcher.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      Though I guess if it does happen, I won’t be as pissed because with CC you can afford a drop in offense and F-Cerv is awesome.

      • JobaTheHeat62 says:

        That is how I feel, I really like Cervelli, and I know he has probly played over his head to this point in his career,but he is fun watching in a game, and I agree if you had to caddy a backup catcher with a pitcher it would be CC since he is clearly the best pitcher.

        • Yankeescribe says:

          I’m not so sure that he’s playing over his head. I think the scouts may have been wrong about Cervelli’s upside on offense. Since his debut last May, he’s looked like he has the potential to be a .270 – .290 hitter. On defense, he was one of the best catchers in the minors. His timely hitting and baserunning is what has caught a lot of people by surprise.

          Between Cervelli and Montero, the Yanks have great options for Posada’s replacement.

    • Pat D says:

      I can see what you mean. I think that your hope is that Sabathia is your ace and would be the pitcher who “needs” the least amount of run support. Therefore, having Cervelli catch him rather than Posada is when you can most “afford” to have Posada out of the lineup, presuming he does not DH.

      I actually think that Cervelli caught tonight because Girardi wants Posada to catch Burnett again tomorrow to further put that story to bed. If Posada had caught tonight, he wouldn’t catch tomorrow.

      • Salty Buggah says:

        Of course, I don’t think Girardi is doing it on purpose and probably won’t unless CC bombs a couple of times more with Posada catching. It’s just a coincidence for now.

    • Beef Hammerdong says:

      The 4 C’s are IN!

      The CC/Cervelli Connection

      Printing $hirt$ a$ I po$t.

  9. Nickel says:

    11 balls thrown in CC’s first 5 innings is simply astounding.

  10. James says:

    I know Thames sucks the big one in LF…and every ball that is hit in the air that he doesn’t catch could have been by Brett Gardner.

    but the guy has been on base 6 times out of his 11 PAs.

  11. Tom Zig says:

    I posted this in the game-thread, but I feel like it is necessary to repeat it:

    To piggy-back on what someone said earlier about Nick Johnson having more walks than the Astros:

    Nick Johnson: 11 BBs in 44 PAs
    Houston Astros: 8 BBs in 345 PAs

  12. Kiersten says:

    This team is very, very good. The rest of the league needs to be very afraid.

    • pollo says:

      yep. Nick johnson at DH and Javy Vazquez are probably the biggest drama items for this team. Other than that, I think we’re in ccruise control. We won’t be playing meaningful games in Oct.

  13. pete says:

    The last two years Sabathia has stunk through april, and gotten going after his first really good start. Based on that statistically invalid premise, I think CC is going to be HUGGGE this year. Like 22-6/3.04/229-63/231.2 good.

  14. V says:

    First game of the season in person for me today… weather appears to have cleared up a bit (:knocks on wood:).

  15. poster says:

    All right, I’m going to be the bubble burster here: Stop expecting this team to be be 1998, or close (105 or over wins). I know we’re off to a great start. I know we don’t have many weaknesses. But you know what? It’s the first game of our third series. Do you know how difficult it is to win 105 or more games? It happens very, ver, very rarely. I would be perfectly happy with 96 wins or so.

    We’re being fooled by the SSS…MIGHT the Yanks be this good? Yeah. Sure. Is it very likely? No it’s not. More likely is that this is just a hot start. They’ll cool off a bit, everybody will panic for no reason, and then they’ll get hot again and everything will be fine. But I think 105 wins is just unreasonable to expect, and it’s also unreasonable to think they won’t be playing meaningful games in September. Red Sox have started slow, but they’re really good, as are the Rays. I think we win the division, but after a struggle, not with ease. Dnot’ go comparing this team to 98′. It’s not fair.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

      Sorry, it’s the first game of the FOURTH series. So, expectations are back on. YYYYAAAAAAAYYYY.

    • Pat D says:

      Yes, for one thing the ’98 team benefited from playing a first year expansion team many times. The Red Sox and Angels were also not as good that year, nor were the Tigers. I think he league overall is much better now than it was in ’98, so to expect them to come anywhere close to that win total is asking too much.

    • Zack says:

      On the other hand:Last year they won 103 games while:
      ARod missed a month, struggling for a few weeks after
      Posada only played 111 games
      The #3 SP was useless then hurt all year
      Nady missed the whole year
      Joba was awful in Aug/Sept
      Sergio Mitre made 9 starts
      Cano hit .200 with RISP
      The defense in 3B/LF was poor last year (Compared to healthy ARod and Gardner)
      Marte basically missed the whole season

      So it’s not like everything went perfect for the Yankees last year

      • poster says:

        So what makes you think everything will be perfect this year? Nothing crazy happened last year, just normal stuff.

        • Zack says:

          I didnt say things would be perfect this year.

          Normal stuff is ARod having surgery before ST? The #3 starter being useless then having season ending surgery? The starting RF (even though Swisher is better) playing 7 games before needing his 2nd TJS? The team giving a SP 3-4 inning starts?

          That’s all “normal”?

          • poster says:

            Yes. Normal problems throughout the year. Almost every team has them.

            • poster says:

              BTW, Cano hitting 200 with RISP wasn’t that big of a deal considering his excellence everywhere else.

            • Zack says:

              Right. But like Dexception said below, 15 day DL’s are one thing, season ended things or surgery during ST is something different. And in Aug/Sept they basically had 3 starts + Mitre and Joba doing nothing, yet still pulled away from the competition.

              They have a Top 5 AL Rotation, Best lineup, bullpen that goes Mo-Joba-Drob-Marte-Aceves-Park. Unless major injuries occur (ie, not normal pulled hamstrings) then 100+ Wins is not a crazy prediction.

              • poster says:

                You’re talking about normal problems. Every team has them, except incredibly lucky ones. Beckett was in and out of the rotation last year. Dice-K was out all year. Big Papi wasn’t out, but he was basically nonexistent during the first half.

                100+ wins-optimistic, but not ludicrous. 105+-unfair. That almost NEVER happens. They would have to be unbelievably good. It’s nearly impossible (NEARLY).

                Could it happen? Yes. Are we making too big a deal of a hot start? I think so.

                • Zack says:

                  Well Beckett is always in and out of the rotation, that’s him.

                  They won 103 games last year, and improved their team this year. People thinking they can win more isnt crazy.

                • poster says:

                  Did they improve? Yeah, a bit. But honestly, last year they got incredibly lucky that all those problems were able to be solved so quickly. 103 is a shitload of wins. 105 is unreal. It almost never happens. I think it’s unfair to project those expectations on the team.

                  What does Beckett “always” being hurt have to do with anything? Robbie “never” hit with men in scoring position. Does that mean it wasn’t a problem? Just because Beckett being injured is always a problem doesn’t make it less of a problem.

                • Zack says:

                  I still dont see how they got ‘lucky’ last year.

                  Because it’s not like Beckett is a 230 IP horse, then Sox got unlucky and Beckett couldnt pitch for a full season. They got out of Beckett what they always get out of him, just over 200IP, great for stretches, mediocre for stretches- it was his 2nd best year with the Sox.

                  Last year was Cano’s worst performance with RISP, not his normal suckiness

                • poster says:

                  No, 2008 was really bad.

                  They expected more from Beckett.

                • poster says:

                  Anyway, if you don’t see how they got lucky last year, then I don’t know what to say.

        • Dexception32 says:

          Well unless we are the Mets, I don’t think thats true. Getting nothing out of CMW is pretty extreme. Losing a former All Star like Nady again pretty extreme. Having A-rod take not only the first month off, but many more games than usual, and the entire season in the field off extreme. We’re not talking 15 Day DL’s here, these are all significant impact circumstances and yet still the 103. I think we have a very good chance at meeting or exceeding that simply as a result of the versatility we’ve gained this year. We can beat you with pitching, we can slug you to death, and we can manufacture. Combining that with what I beleive will be a far superior defense this year. (see A-rod looks excellent, and outfield is primed for awesomeness), and I got no problem telling you the optimism meter on this season should be Arod shot off Nathan big. This should indeed be a season of Great Expectations, so everyone get your “Dickens” on and get ready to hear alot of Sinatra.

          • poster says:

            Nady-Very overrated

            Losing CMW-A big deal, but we did have CC, Andy, and Pettite

            A-Rod-He missed one month.One he got back we won over 90 games. Plus the lineup was great w/o him anyway.

            It’s unfair to expect this team to be 105 plus win good. That is ridiculously good. If everything goes WELL we’ll win 96+ games, but to win 105+ we’ll need to get some lucky breaks AND everything will need to be perfect. It’s unfair to expect that, especially with the Sox and Rays in our division.

    • Kiersten says:

      I don’t think they’ll win as many games at ’98, but expecting 105 wins at this point is very fair. I thought they were a better team than last year’s on paper coming into the season and that has translated on to the field. They’re 7-3 against agruably 4 of the 5 best teams in the league. It’s not like they’re beating up on the Royals and the A’s. If last year’s team could win 103, I see no reason why I can’t expect 105 from this team at this point.

  16. Riddering says:

    Not only is that a nice pitch chart for CC but it looks like the homeplate umpire was doing his job last night. Kudos!

    I agree that last night’s game was a good one. Only sad it had to come to an end so soon. Props to Cervelli for getting the man at third in with less than two outs. Pretty sure that gets him a golden star in K-Long’s book.

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