Sabathia dominates Rays to wrap up first half


No one wants to head into the All-Star break coming off a loss, so CC Sabathia made sure his team wouldn’t have to do that on Sunday. He was the starter, setup man, and closer against the Rays, tossing his first complete game shutout since 2009.

Last four starts: 31.2 IP, 6 BB, 42 K. Rawr.


Two of the first five Rays batters hits doubles. None of the next 24 made it as far as second base. Some iffy baserunning (thanks, B.J. Upton) helped out with that last part, but the point is that Sabathia overpowered Tampa’s lineup, recording 19 of his 27 outs on the infield. He was throwing his hardest in the ninth inning, blowing a 98.4 mph heater passed Elliot Johnson on pitch number 113, the last of the game. Only four batters saw a three-ball count. Complete dominance, CC looked like he was ready to pitch the 10th and 11th innings if it got that far.

Sabathia’s outing resulted in 0.791 WPA, the second highest WPA by a starting pitcher this season. Only Francisco Liriano’s no-hitter was better (0.829). His 87 Game Score was the 17th best in baseball this year and the best by a Yankee. You have to go back to this 2005 game to find a higher Game Score among Yankee hurlers. By my completely amateurish calculation, Sabathia went from 4.4 WAR to 5.0 WAR in this game alone, second only to the great Roy Halladay among big league starters. His scoreless streak is now a career-high 23.2 IP. It just doesn’t get much better than this. Enjoy the Bahamas, big fella. You’ve earned it.

A Run On Two Baserunning Mistakes

Unfortunately for the Yankees, Jamie Shields matched Sabathia zero for zero. The Yankees smallballed their way out of a rally in the third (more on that later) and watched as Shields retired the next nine men he faced through the sixth inning. Robinson Cano snuck a single under Ben Zobrist’s glove at second to start the seventh, and things got a little crazy after that. Jorge Posada was hunting a first-pitch fastball and looped a fly ball into center, but Upton caught it on the run and had Cano stretched too far off the bag. He threw to first for what should have been a double play, but the throw ended up in the Yankees’ dugout. By rule, Cano advanced two bases to third when a good throw would have doubled him off the bag.

The Rays brought the infield in with the man on third in the scoreless game and it worked perfectly thanks to Russell Martin‘s hacking at the first pitch. His ground ball went right to Sean Rodriguez at third, who looked Cano back to the bag before making the throw to first. Brett Gardner was at the plate hoping for a hit or a wild pitch to score the run with two outs, but the Rays got cute and tried to catch Cano napping at third. Shields made a pickoff throw to third that eluded S-Rod and went into foul territory, allowing Robbie to score easily. The thing is that the pickoff throw would have worked if the throw was on line; Cano was way off the bag and dead to rights. Upton’s throw and Shields’ pickoff bailed Cano out twice, but sometimes you need a little luck like that. The run was unearned, and I can’t imagine there are many 1-0 games where the run is unearned in the AL.

Death By Bunting

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Yankees pulled off a sacrifice bunt and it didn’t work. Shocking, I know. Even better: it was Curtis Granderson, the team’s best hitter all season, who laid down the bunt. Eduardo Nunez and Derek Jeter reached on infield singles to lead off the third, Grandy bunted them over, then Mark Teixeira flew out into a double play because Upton threw out Nunez at the plate by ten feet. I mean really, what’s the thought process there? That the .244 hitting first baseman who can’t hit changeups will single in both runners against a changeup pitcher? Congrats, common sense lost again. Can’t wait for this to happen in a game with something really on the line.



I don’t think a player with two hits can have a worse day than Upton did. He singled in the fourth then immediately got picked off by Sabathia, who started a rundown between first and second. Upton then beat out an infield single in the seventh (more in a bit) but got doubled off first on Rodriguez’s line drive to right. He had his head down and just kept running. Then there was the throw into the dugout. Just a brutal day, especially when the Bleacher Creatures started serenading him with “B. J. Up-ton clap clap clapclapclap” chants after the run scored.

Shields kept the offense pretty well in check, the Yankees had just four singles, two of which didn’t even leave the infield. Teixeira drew the only walk way back in the first inning. He was pretty dominant, basically Sabathia with one inning of bad defense.

The Yankees are an absurd 26-5 in the day games, the best mark since the 1955 Dodgers also won 26 of their first 31 day games. Of course, that means the Yankees are 27-30 in night games. I suspect that’s more of a fluke than a trend. I can’t think of anything that would make a team play so much better during the day than at night. Anyway, the Yankees have won two straight and 14 of their last 20. That’s a fine way to head into the break.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs the other stuff.

Up Next

Three days off, which will be nice for the Yankees but bad for us fans. They’ll kick off the second half with four games in Toronto against the Fightin’ Bautistas on Thursday. Bartolo Colon gets that start, and here’s the rest of the team’s pitching plans. If you’re going to be in Toronto for the weekend, RAB Tickets can get you into the games dirt cheap.

Categories : Game Stories


  1. Xstar7 says:

    CC Sabathia is a man.

  2. CC Sabathia is good at baseball. Resign this man after the season.


  3. YankeeJosh says:

    I didn’t really have a problem with the Granderson bunt. Shields and CC were dealing and it gave an opportunity to get a run with an out or two runs with a single. On YES they mentioned that Granderson was something like 1 for his last 14 at that point. If Teixeira drives the ball a little deeper it works and scores a run. If he gets a single it’s 2-0.

    Yankees have bunted at a lot of bad times this season, but I wasn’t upset at this one.

  4. Karl Krawfid says:

    Really don’t understand the hate with Granderson bunting.

    He’s worse against Shields than Tex is.

    All Tex had to do was ground out to short and the Yankees score 2 runs.

    • Jerome S. says:

      Trying to hit and getting out >>>>>>>>>> just waving the white flag and bunting.

    • Rich says:

      What the hell is Tex thinking. The whole left side of the infield is wide open. At least try to hit the ball over there before you get two strikes on you. The way CC is pitching you can seal the deal right there. That’s why you’re hitting .244—every team knows where you’re gonna hit the ball. Try something different a couple of times and the shift is over or at least not as pronounced.

  5. Avi Atkin says:

    Lots of smiles in this one. Now the hope is we dominate the Red Sox the rest of the way like in previous year XD

  6. Ynkeecrzed says:

    Cc didn’t go rawr he went rWAR

  7. RaeGun says:

    CC. Best FA signing since Moose?

    • Xstar7 says:


      A better question would be: Who’s been the Yankees worst free agent signing since Carl Pavano?

      • Avi says:

        That’s easy: Burnett

      • bexarama says:

        It’s Igawa. All the other FA moves that haven’t worked out, well they generally weren’t for huge money/long years.

        • bexarama says:

          Also the Marte signing was pretty awful but at least it helped the Yankees win the World Series.

          • Xstar7 says:

            True. If not for nothing, at least Marte earned his TRUE YANKEEtm status when he struck out Ryan Howard and then Chase Utley in game 6 of the ’09 WS.

          • gc says:

            As did AJ Burnett. I know he’s a lot of peoples’ favorite whipping boy around here, but he won the single biggest game of the year in 2009 to help propel the Yankees to a World Championship. Those flags fly forever, you know. No matter what he does for the rest of his career, here or elsewhere, I’ll always respect the way he came through in that game. If they lose that one, and go to Philly down 2 games to none, I’m not sure they bounce back.

      • Rock says:

        Gotta be Arod at 32mm/yr.

  8. Operation Slade says:

    Hey maybe the Yankees play so well during the day because none of them have blue eyes?

  9. Your mom says:

    “I can’t think of anything that would make a team play so much better during the day than at night.”

    Well according to Cliff Lee we are an old team. You know, get up early, go to bed early, that kind of thing……..

  10. Monteroisdinero says:

    Didn’t see the game but I can’t imagine Cano getting picked off 3rd with a good throw. I didn’t think we had a dumber baserunner than Posada but we have someone ready to take on that role. Imagine if we had lost the game 1-0. Robbie lucked out big time twice in that inning. Just a great talent-imagine if he had great instincts too!

    • Pasqua says:

      Rodriguez was well off the bag, so Cano probably didn’t even think they would try something. The pick-off looked like the “daylight” play at second base. Cano was down the line, but wasn’t being held on. Brain fart, yes, but not completely indefensible.

  11. In re: the bunt.

    I was watching on TV then listening on the radio. Both booths kept getting on Tex for not “simply hitting a groundball”, yet neither of the two booths questioned the logic of the bunt. Mind boggling.

    • Also fun:

      When Upton threw the ball into the dugout, Sterling was a little surprised that Cano got third. Sterling finished it up with “I don’t know the rule book….” The guy’s been a broadcaster for how long and he doesn’t know that an overthrow from the OF is a two base error?

    • Greg says:

      I’m not incensed by the bunt as some people are. Both pitchers were dealing and Girardi believed that if we could just scratch across a run, we would have enough. Also he thought that we might not get another scoring opportunity, and save for some bad defese, he was right.

      Plus Granderson was 3-35 in his career against James Shields and has been slumping of late.

      The first part of my post is the main reason.

    • CP says:

      The bunt actually increases the likelihood of the Yankees scoring one or two runs (but reduces the chances of scoring 3+). Considering the way the game played out and the way CC was pitching, that’s all that they would need.

      Unless you think there is a huge difference between Granderson/Tex batting and Tex/Cano batting, then there’s really nothing wrong with that bunt.

  12. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    CC was all like “rawr” and the Rays were all like “oh no’z!”

  13. Grit for Brains says:

    That performance was really something as has this four start run he’s been on…really incredible from the big man. That said we still need a second lefty starter. Seattle is 7.5 gm’s back now and Bedard’s injury was only to his knee, maybe he can be pried loose on the semi cheap because of that and his track record of poor health.

  14. Dmattingly5900 says:

    People still think CC is not the best LHP in baseball. He’s a horse. He dominates mire than Hamels, Price, Lee, and Kershaw

  15. People still think CC is not the best LHP in baseball. He’s a horse. He dominates mire than Hamels, Price, Lee, and Kershaw.

    • pete says:

      no, yes, no, and no. He’s a beast, sure, but he ain’t more dominant than Kershaw. Kershaw has been doing all season what CC’s been doing for his last four starts.

  16. Dmattingly5900 says:

    People still think CC is not the best LHP in baseball. He’s a horse. He dominates more than Hamels, Price, Lee, and Kershaw.

  17. pat says:

    98 mph on the last pitch of the game? BAWS

  18. first time lawng time says:

    CC looked like he was ready to pitch the 10th and 11th innings if it got that far.

    Do you think Girardi would have allowed him to into extras if it went that far?

  19. first time lawng time says:

    BJ Upton is such a fucking idiot. LMAO

  20. Joel says:

    Finally decided to become an active member here, as I’ve been a Yankee fan for most of my 63 years.

    Was just super impressed with CC’s performance yesterday. Started off at 94 mph and finished the 9th at 98 mph.

    Had Meniscus Knee surgery in April myself. Right inner torn in half. Very painful to stand for long periods of time, and motion was limited. Was back at work in less then 3 weeks. IMHO A-Rod is doing the right thing, and the Yanks will benefit from his decision.

    • Monteroisdinero says:

      Welcome Joel. I agree with your comment on Alex. He needs to do what he can asap to get as close to 100% asap. I had the same arthroscopic surgery. A professional athlete with strong quads and great physical therapy should come back in 3-4 weeks. Right decision.

  21. mt says:

    I think it is so funny that Tampa tries to play this aggressive, “smart” style (with the exaggerated shift) and then it comes down to simple Tampa bonehead plays – Upton throwing the ball away, Upton getting picked off when Sabathia ran at him, Rodriguez getting thrown out at third (think this happened yesterday but it may have been Saturday), Shields bad pick-off throw.

    I was right before this series when I worried about Yankee mental mistakes on simple plays getting us in trouble in tight, one-run ball games. Cano’s baserunning was actually beyond dreadful but what I didn’t count on was that Tampa out-dreadfulled us.

    Wonderful to see.

    (Also I think Tex should get more grief for not being able to hit a simple ground ball to shortstop on the exaggerated shift. I have seen Ortiz – big old David Ortiz – bunt on us and also go the other way a couple of times when we do the shift on him. Why can’t Tex ever do this at least once? Not all the time – but a run in this particular game was precious. He knows Tampa does this severe shift -then why doesn’t he practice some going the other way before we play Tampa. In that inning, we get a Jeter bunt, and a Granderson sac bunt (he of the 25 homers) but then the whole small ball thing is neutralized becasue Tex (of the 25 homers) can’t hit a ground ball to the other side. I know they would have scored if he had hit a longer fly ball but Rays are basically giving you two runs if you can execute – I would imagine it is not as difficult as bunting.)

    • Pasqua says:

      There is something to be said for how Tex is pitched with the shift in place. I haven’t paid extra close attention, but with such a dramatic shift, it would make sense that a pitcher would keep the ball on the inner half of the plate, making it more difficult for Tex to simply push something to the opposite field. Now, on a mistake pitch (that sails across the outer-half), there’s no reason why Tex shouldn’t be prepared to “go oppo” with it. Of course, Tex is also probably figuring that he could put a mistake pitch in the second deck.

    • CP says:

      The two throwing errors were not (technically) boneheaded plays. In both cases, they would have easily gotten Cano out, so they weren’t poor decisions. They were just executed poorly.

      Upton getting picked off was boneheaded.

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