CC leads Yanks to much-needed win over Tigers


The Yankees had lost six straight against the Tigers (including postseason) coming into Sunday’s game, but more than anything they just needed a win to start feeling good about things after the rough opening week to the season. They had the right man on the mound in the series finale against Detroit — they don’t make another regular season trip to Comerica Park this year, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying “thank goodness” — and walked away with a much-needed 7-0 win.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Sabathia Not Sharp, But Effective
After watching their bullpen get torn to shreds the last two games, the Yankees desperately needed a quality outing from CC Sabathia on Sunday. He delivered in a big way despite being something less than sharp, holding the Tigers to four singles and zero runs in seven innings. His strikeout (three) and walk (three) totals tell you he off a bit, but Sabathia made pitches when he had to and never once allowed a runner to reach third base. Only one made it as far as second.

Sabathia, who had to really grind through the 114-pitch outing, averaged 90.9 mph with his fastball and topped out at 92.5 according to PitchFX. That’s up a bit from Opening Day last week (89.9 and 91.7, respectively), so at least he’s heading in the right direction. This is still something work monitoring, of course. Detroit’s batters swung and missed ten times total against the southpaw, including six times against the 20 changeups he threw. That was the pitch he leaned on last time out as well.

Opponents have scored against Sabathia in only one of his 12 innings this year, and on Sunday he limited the top five hitters in Detroit’s lineup to one single and two walks in 16 plate appearances. The powerful three-four-five combination of Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Victor Martinez went a combined 0-for-9 with a strikeout against the Yankees’ ace. That’s pretty much the recipe for beating the Tigers, keeping those guys in check. It wasn’t his most effortless outing, but big ups to CC for coming up big when his team really needed it.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Bottom Of The Order Does Some Damage
The Yankees have had some run-scoring issues so far this year, but the bottom of the order did some damage against Justin Verlander in the second inning. The rally started a hard-fought, seven-pitch walk from Vernon Wells — already has four walks as a Yankee after drawing 16 in 77 games last year — who moved to second on Ichiro Suzuki‘s ground out. Frankie Cervelli got the Bombers on the board with a double into the left-center field gap, though left fielder Matt Tuiasosopo deserves an honorable mention for a horrendous route.

Lyle Overbay followed with a fly out, but Jayson Nix came through with the big two-out, two-run homer to left. He came into the season with five strikeouts (at least three looking) in seven plate appearances and didn’t inspire much confidence in that spot. With Eduardo Nunez‘s recent biceps injury and Derek Jeter‘s slow recovery from his ankle surgery, the Yankees need Nix to be somewhat productive as the utility infielder. Hitting a two-run dinger off Verlander to give the club a three-run lead is about as good as it gets there.

Blown Open
For the first time since Game One of the ALDS, the Yankees managed to put more than four runs on the board. They broke things open against the suspect Tigers bullpen, pounding former Yankees Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel for four runs on six hits and one walk in 1.2 innings. They combined to throw 47 pitches and got one swing and miss.

There really wasn’t a big blow in those last two innings, it was two steady rallies. Ichiro (sacrifice fly) and Cervelli (single) each plated one run in the eighth while Kevin Youkilis (single) drove in a pair in the ninth. It had been a while (13 games in fact) since the Yankees last blew one open like that, so it was a welcome sight. After all of Sabathia’s hard work it was nice to know the bullpen had some breathing room.

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Prior to the game, the Tigers gave Mariano Rivera some framed photos with dirt from Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park as part of his farewell tour. This is one of those things that is definitely cooler than it sounds. Later on, Mo threw a scoreless ninth with two bloop singles mixed it. David Robertson pulled a Houdini act in the eight with two strikeouts.

Nix led the offense with three hits, but Youkilis, Cervelli, and Travis Hafner all had two apiece as well. Overbay was the only player in the lineup not to reach base as even the struggling Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano picked up a hit (one single apiece). Gardner also made a great running catch in the right-center field gap in the late innings to help stifle a rally. Wells, who doubled and had a pair of walks, also made a nice lunging (more like flopping, really) catch early on.

Youkilis and Verlander were jawing at each other after the former’s first inning double, and I think it had to do with something earlier in the at-bat. Youkilis hit a deep fly ball that hooked foul a few pitches earlier, but he stared it down like a no-doubt homer. Verlander might not have liked that. No idea what the conversation was about though, just speculating.

In case you’re wondering, Joba Chamberlain shaved off that atrocious mustache citing superstitious reasons. “It wasn’t doing us any good,” he said before the game. You can say that again.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Hooray for no longer having the worst run differential in baseball.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are heading to Cleveland for a four-game series with the Indians that begins Monday afternoon. Hiroki Kuroda, who still has some soreness in his right middle finger after being hit a line drive on Wednesday — “I would be lying if I said it wasn’t bothering me …. At the same time I have to deal with it,” said Kuroda to George King prior to Sunday’s game — will get the ball against Ubaldo Jimenez.

Categories : Game Stories


  1. Eddard says:

    I feel like a broken record sometimes but starting pitching is what will drive the team through April. People have been using runs per game as proof that the team will collapse. First of all, what happened to small sample size? Second of all, guys like Youk, Wells, Hafner, Overbay, Cervelli have been holding their own. Nix was a hero today. I

    It’s Gardner and Cano that haven’t been producing at the top of the lineup. They’re supposed to be the mainstays with all the injuries but they’re both hitting below .170. Ichiro has been bad as well. When these guys do turn it around like we know they will then this team has a good chance to go .500 or better in April.

  2. Kiko Jones says:

    Always have a good feeling when they’re facing Verlander, especially vs The Big Man, and today was no exception.

    If this team can play .500 ball for the next month or so, they’ll be alright.

  3. sangreal says:

    Sabathia looks tiny in that shot

  4. JLC 776 says:

    The ‘non-ace’ with his first of hopefully 20 or so solid victories for the year. What a great, much needed win. What a crazy sport… lose two but beat Verlander.

    I love, love, LOVE the sendoff for Mo. No matter how shitty the year might be for the Yanks, I’m tuning into every game just for Mariano.

  5. FrankeeYankee says:

    Besides the nice win it’s way above average that Joba hacked off that dead caterpillar that was on his lip. That thing was fugly.

  6. TCMiller30 says:

    CC looks skinny in that picture

  7. Improbable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR) says:

    NOOOOOOOOO, don’t start Kuroda.

    1) He’s apparently still injured (supposedly a bruise but the Yanks have been wrong before and he’s still feeling pain), and,

    2) If his finger’s still hurting the odds are against him pitching well anyway.

    Very, VERY bad idea.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Everything we’ve read has said he’s thrown bullpens and is ready. Why do you feel differently?

      • Improbable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR) says:

        Because when the team is as devastated as injuries as this one is and you have a pitcher who still says he’s feeling pain in his finger I think the wisest things to do is to have him miss a start at least until the pain subsides.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Where did he say there was still pain? How have the bullpens looked? Do they feel he can grip his pitches?

          I understand the concern. We’ll know what they should have done tomorrow, and we’ll probably know rather quickly.

          • Improbable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR) says:

            At the end of this article:

            Hiroki Kuroda, who still has some soreness in his right middle finger after being hit a line drive on Wednesday — “I would be lying if I said it wasn’t bothering me …. At the same time I have to deal with it,” said Kuroda to George King prior to Sunday’s game

            • Barry says:

              Sounds like he’s just a gamer

              • Robinson Tilapia says:

                Well, they all play hurt.

                Gamer or not, the key here is going to be if it affects his command. We’re talking about a bruise, not a muscle, or anything of that sort, but you saw the difference in Kuroda last time out after he got hit. If he can locate his pitches, he should be out there.

                FWIW, it didn’t seem like a sure thing yet from watching the Joe Girardi show that Kuroda will be out there tomorrow.

                • forensic says:

                  I haven’t watched it yet, but those are usually taped on Saturdays, quite possibly even before yesterday’s game. At that point it may have been in more question.

                  But, from today’s pregame:

                  Hiroki Kuroda will start tomorrow. “Unless something happens when he’s warming up tomorrow, he’s a go,” Girardi said.

                  • Robinson Tilapia says:

                    There’s usually stuff from the actual game that preceded it on the show, unless I’m completely imagining that in a state of complete exhaustion at the moment.

                • Barry says:

                  Bruises usually get exponentially better day by day at least. I would imagine that the bullpens would of been a clear indicator of command. I’m sure he’ll have a short leash.

    • forensic says:

      At the very least, Warren should be stretching with him pre-game…

  8. jjyank says:

    As far as I’m concerned, the Yankees won twice today. Once for baseball, and once for Joba ridding the world of the ridiculous ‘stache.

    On a serious note, this was a great win. CC didn’t have his best stuff, but he held a shutout against a good lineup. Where were all the “CC isn’t an ACE!!” people today? In my opinion, that’s exactly what an ace can do: rip though a good lineup without your A-game and find a way to win. And not only win, but 7+ scoreless innings.

    Also, Jayson Fucking Nix. That is all.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      Could CC still be building arm strength?

      • Havok9120 says:

        He’s been saying all winter that he and the training staff switched up his preparation (and possibly the expectations of his usage) to fit the fact that he’s getting older and that the team needs him for the long term. Maybe this is a side-effect. Heck, it’s entirely possible that his weight being so low (and the fact that the team is supposedly working to make sure it STAYS low) is affecting his velocity.

        We’ll know soon enough whether it’s effectively permanent or if everything combined with the temperature is simply suppressing it more than usual.

        • The Big City of Dreams says:

          Thanks for the breakdown. I guess I missed the part about him and the training staff switching his preparation. I think ppl are panicking over his velocity and like you I’m taking the wait and see approach.

          • Havok9120 says:

            I’ll admit that even I (and I like to think of myself as one of the more even-keeled regulars) would have freaked had Jennings not been reporting that the Yankees and CC had taken a completely different tack this offseason. As it is I’m willing to wait for the weather to warm up before deciding whether or not the velocity is gone for good.

            Even if it is, I sincerely believe he’ll be able to pull a Mike Mussina. I just hope it doesn’t take him as long as it took Moose to figure out how to pitch with diminished velocity.

            • The Big City of Dreams says:

              I don’t think it will take him that long. It seems he is more of a pitcher now than he was yrs ago. He was just a thrower in his CLE days.

    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      He didn’t even have 10 strikeouts today!

      CC ISN OT AN ACE!!!!!!!

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      “Where were all the “CC isn’t an ACE!!” people today?”

      I wager they don’t even bother to come to the site until the team falls behind.

      This is why this team must never lose again.


      • Manny's BanWagon says:

        Anyone who doesn’t think CC is an ace is pretty much a fool and not worth commenting on IMO.

        • WhittakerWalt says:

          As far as whether CC is or is not an ace (whatever that even means), it’s all about perception. I think what frustrates a lot of people is that CC can go through extended periods of utter dominance followed by a stretch of awfulness. This usually happens without any warning, then vanishes from whence it came.

          I remember last season down the stretch when our lead was vanishing day by day. We needed a stopper. We needed to stop the bleeding. And Sabathia lost 4 starts in a row during that stretch. It was frustrating.

          I love Sabathia. I root for him every time out. But those kinds of ineffective stretches can take a toll on you no matter how much you love a player. So it’s 90% love, 10% throw the remote at the TV. But never a discussion about “acehood.” At least that’s how it is for me.

          And yes, if we had Felix Hernandez or Cliff Lee or Justin Verlander, we’d probably hear the same shit if they lost two in a row.

          • Kosmo says:

            Sabathia´s last 3 starts in Sept. 2012 resulted in 3 wins and I might add he pitched great ball in all 3 games.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Agreed on that last sentence.

            It’s not about stretches of starts for me, as I honestly can’t say I recall that happening many times. I get frustrated by the occasional awful inning from him. That’s balanced out, of course, by my favorite thing about CC, and that’s his ability to get pissed off after those stretches, say “that’s it. You’re not getting jack shit off me the rest of the night,” and just become downright filthy afterwards and save the game. LOVE THAT.

  9. Bubba says:

    Four words for you gentlemen…

    Jayson Nix, Baseball Player

  10. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Hopefully we begin to see more of this, and less of the past two games, as the next few days and weeks wear on.

    Great game. It’s a joy to watch a great pitcher figure it out when he knows he doesn’t have his best stuff.

  11. Mike HC says:

    Great game for a hungover Sunday. Enjoyable and easy watching throughout.

  12. mustang says:

    Nice game hopefully they can win the series in Cleveland.

    Youkilis is smoking the ball.

  13. forensic says:

    There really wasn’t a big blow in those last two innings, it was two steady rallies. Ichiro (sacrifice fly) and Cervelli (single) each plated one run in the eighth while Kevin Youkilis (single) drove in a pair in the ninth.

    Can’t rely on that though. It’s much better to rely on homeruns from Jayson Nix instead of rallies… :-)

    • mustang says:

      Couldn’t agree more forget those damn rallies its better to rely on the home run that works so well especially if they make the playoffs.

  14. forensic says:

    Gardner also made a great running catch in the right-center field gap in the late innings to help stifle a rally

    Mentioned it in the game thread, but it’s going to be very sad in a month or two when those turn into big multi-RBI doubles for no good reason (as far as I’m concerned). He also saved runs yesterday with a great catch.

    • mustang says:

      I don’t think he is moving anywhere so no worries.

    • Manny's BanWagon says:

      Agree 100%. It would be stupid to move Granderson back to CF when he gets off the DL. We already know he’s a poor defensive CFer.

      What’s the worst that could happen, he’d be a poor defensive LFer too?

      • Pseudoyanks says:

        Agree, he’ll rehab in Scranton for a few games anyway so just school him in LF there even if it takes a couple more days.

    • forensic says:

      And just to pile on, I’m just now catching up by watching Pettitte’s game from Thursday against the Red Sox and Gardner made another very nice catch deep in the LCF gap to end the 7th inning with a man on 2nd.

      Yet another one that could’ve made a huge difference in the game with a bad CFer out there.

      • forensic says:

        And yes, that means I also just saw Cervelli hit a ball off the Steiner Sports sign just below the LCF bleachers.

        That’s insane!!!

        • forensic says:

          And now, just to continue my play-by-play from 4 days ago since all you other bums are sleeping, Gardner was just thrown out at 2nd trying to stretch a hit off the base.

          For the record, I like the aggressiveness. It took a perfect throw to get him and with this offense and a bit of a lead already in this game, give it a shot…

  15. Brian Cashman has been very big on the “lighting in a bottle” mentality for his replacement/role players, and it seems that is the case with Overbay, Wells, Hafner, and to a lesser extent, Youkilis. Those guys hopefully will continue to hit, but given prior stats and their 2012 Player Values, I can’t imagine it’ll sustain itself at a ~.300 clip. Sabathia needs to have starts like these regularly; he needs to be his August self in April to keep the Yankees afloat for the month. Now granted, they’ve had bad Aprils plenty of times and rebounded, but also keep in mind that the guys coming back need to adjust as well, so making sure they remain in contention until May is huge, and that rests on the pitching staff. If Sabathia, Kuroda, and Pettite consistently throw effectively and Nova and Hughes are even marginally successful, it won’t matter as much that they’re scoring on average 1 fewer run per game. Games like today need to be more of a norm.

    • vicki says:


    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      A 7-0 shutout should be the norm?

      I agree that the secondary guys picking up the main guys when they’re not clicking is important, and that this team isn’t going to win dick if its scoring about four runs a game, but this type of game isn’t the norm for even a championship team.

      • What I mean is that pitching-dominated games need to be the norm. I was saying that the hot-hitting replacement players are not going to stay hot forever, and excellent pitching needs to sustain them.

  16. Pat D says:

    I’m sure everyone is dying to know, but WrestleMania was pretty meh.

    • Pseudoyanks says:

      Thanks for the update.

    • Manny's BanWagon says:

      Yeah I agree. WM was much better last year. IMO, CM Punk was a much less interesting opponent for the Undertaker compared to Triple H and that match lacked drama since I never really felt Punk could win.

      Also, Cena and the Rock already fought last year and it was pretty obvious Rock was gonna lose since he couldn’t keep his belt as he only wrestles sporadically during the year. Cena’s to big a part of the WWE to lose repeatedly in WM.

      Triple and Lesnar was a good match and the other one I liked was the Shield vs Seamus/Big Show/Orton.

      • vicki says:

        breathe, guy.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I read the results. Seemed like good matches, safe results, except for Henry going over Ryback.

        Someday they’ll make sure these guys can go more than five minutes in ring before pushing them. At least the push didn’t go to Mason Ryan.

  17. Dalek Jeter says:

    Does anybody else think it’s weird, a 4:00 start on a Monday?

    • Pat D says:

      Yes, very much so.

    • vicki says:

      it’s perfect. it just worked sixteen hours and must go again tomorrow night. setting my alarm for john and suzyn.

      • forensic says:

        I’m right there with you except I work the back end of the week while it seems you work the front end of the week.

        The short sleeps suck, but playing well makes it so much better.

        • vicki says:

          i hate 1pm’s. but i open my bar (early) for 1pm’s on sunday because i don’t hate money. 4pm is civilized.

          but it is strange; cleveland is strange.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Bad for me today, at least. Finishing up a few programs tonight.

  18. Kosmo says:

    Sabathia´s 2nd starts of the season since coming to NY:
    2009- 7 2/3 innings 6 hits 0 runs
    2010- 7 2/3 innings 1 hit 0 runs
    2011- 7 innings 2 hits 0 runs
    2012- 6 innings 8 hits 4 runs
    2013- 7 innings 4 hits 0 runs
    = 35 1/3 innings 4 runs

    not bad.

    • forensic says:

      Those are really nice starts.

      It’s only one start a year, both ways, but it sure would be nice to see him figure out how to do that opening day too.

      • Laz says:

        It would be nice to win opening day, but in reality it is only 1 of his 30 starts in the year.

        • Kosmo says:

          if Sabathia didn´t pitch well yesterday the narrative would likely have been about 2 topics 1) he´s still not up to snuff because of an abbreviated ST. 2) diminished velocity .

  19. vicki says:

    okay, will someone please say something about the fielding behind mo? were they trying to create a save situation? the fffuck?

    cano, ichi and loverbay. RESPECT, dicks.

    jayson nix still sucks.

    is it me or does kevin youkilis get handsomer every day?

    aaaand coke deals.

  20. monterowasdinero says:

    I was very impressed with CC changing speeds on his curveball. Lost in all the talk of his velocity is his ability to command off speed stuff in hitter’s counts. This is the key to his success.

    Gardy’s aggressiveness-good
    Wells’ bat speed-impressive
    Youk’s ability to pull the curve and foul off tough fb’s-good
    Cervelli on steroids or just hitting the weight room?

    Bring on Swish! 1B/cleanup/big bucks slugger

  21. Jim Is Bored says:

    I think we should win more often, for the sake of the atmosphere around here.

    At least before the confidence thread goes up.

  22. dmh says:

    Pitching Mariano with a 7 run lead was an insult.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      If anything it was a hat tip to Detroit, in what could be his last visit there. It was the farthest thing from an insult.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      You must be new to this baseball thing. See, when a guy doesn’t pitch in a few days, he needs work in order to stay fresh. Would you like me to type slower for you?

  23. Mick taylor says:

    The Yankee replacements are hitting 297. The guys who are not are cano Gardner and ichiro. If wells Travis and yuk stay healthy they will be just as good as arod swisher and ibanez would be if they were playing right now

  24. SteveH says:

    “Frankie Cervelli got the Bombers on the board with a double into the left-center field gap, though left fielder Matt Tuiasosopo deserves an honorable mention for a horrendous route.”

    Boy, you just hate FrankieC don’t you. Your one of those people who follows everything with a but. Listen, he may not hit 20 homers like RMartin, BUT… he’s faster, better defensively, and can actually hit given the chance! Plus he makes Cano happy.

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