For a few innings, this one looked like a repeat of the first two games of the White Sox series. The Yankees scored early and had Indians’ starter Corey Kluber on the ropes — the bases were loaded in both the first and second innings — but failed to tack on and the game remained close right until the bitter end. Thankfully the Indians are not as good as the ChiSox. Let’s recap…
- Back in Action: CC Sabathia missed a touch more than two weeks with elbow stiffness, but he showed no ill-effect with 7.1 dominant innings against his former team. I was curious to see how he would use his breaking ball, particularly how often he’d use it after the elbow problem, but he used it like he normally would and struck out nine. Facing a left-handed heavy lineup surely helped, but Sabathia looked really good. As good as he’s looked all year, I thought. Welcome back, big guy.
- One-Man Army: The Yankees scored just three runs, and all three crossed the plate thanks to Nick Swisher. He and leadoff man Derek Jeter teamed up for back-to-back doubles in the first for the first run, then he cranked a two-run homer in the seventh to break a one-all tie. Swisher also hit a deep fly ball in the ninth, and he might have had a three-homer night in the Bronx given how deep the double, homer, and fly ball were hit to right. Dude’s been on fire of late, and he really carried the club on Friday.
- Unnecessarily Interesting: Rafael Soriano has been brilliant as Mariano Rivera’s fill-in this season, but he made things mighty interesting in the ninth. Two singles and a wild pitch put the tying run in scoring position with no outs, and soon enough the bases were loaded. Soriano wiggled his way out of the jam with a strikeout (Matt LaPorta), a weak pop-up (Ezequiel Carrera), and a grounder to first (Jack Hannahan). It wasn’t quite as awesome as his escape job in Detroit a few weeks ago, but this was darn good. I just hope we see fewer appearances like this going forward.
- Leftovers: Jeter took a Kluber fastball to the helmet in the second and he was pretty angry about it, maybe angrier than I’ve ever seen him. He remained in the game — never even left his feet — and there is no indication that he was hurt at all … Sabathia retaliated by throwing behind Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth, literally one pitch before surrendered a solo homer … Robinson Cano (GIDP) and Mark Teixeira (strikeout looking) had some particularly putrid at-bats early in the game with one out and the bases loaded and men on second and third, respectively … Eric Chavez’s hot streak is officially over, he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts after a weak showing in Chicago … Jeter and Swisher went a combined 5-for-8 while the rest of the lineup went 4-for-27.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some additional stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Athletics managed to hold on and beat the Rays, so Tampa is now four back in the loss column. The magic number to clinch the AL East crown is down to 34. The Yankees and Indians will do it again on Saturday, a dreaded weekend night game. Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball against Justin Masterson.