For the seventh consecutive game, the other team scored first. The Yankees have made an unfortunate habit of falling behind relatively early over the last week, but they’ve also made a habit of battling back and winning those games as well. That’s exactly what happened on Saturday afternoon, as they overcome both a three-run and then a one-run deficit to win their third straight game against the Blue Jays. That’s pretty awesome. Let’s recap…
- A Battle For Sabathia: It was another laborious start for CC Sabathia, who averaged 91.0 mph and topped out at 93.2 mph with his fastball according to PitchFX. He got touched up for two solo homers (Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie) and two other runs (one earned) in his eight innings of work, and those eight innings are again a testament to his ability to battle. Sabathia threw 112 total pitches (80 strikes, 71%) and generated a healthy 13 swings and misses, but he also gave up nine hits to go with only four strikeouts. He did retire the final nine men he faced following Lawrie’s homer. It wasn’t pretty, but it did the job, especially with a short bullpen.
- The Man They Call Pronk: Travis Hafner started just three of the last ten games heading into Saturday because of all the lefties the Yankees have seen of late, but Joe Girardi penciled him into the lineup against southpaw J.A. Happ anyway. The reward? A game-tying three-run homer in the fourth and a go-ahead triple (!) in the seventh. Rajai Davis got turned around a bit in center and had the ball clank off his glove for the triple, in case you were wondering. Hafner drove in four of the team’s five runs and raised his early season line to .309/.433/.727. Girardi will have to make sure he’s rested given his injury history, but it really hard to take Hafner out of the lineup right now.
- Saved By Joba: Both Mariano Rivera and David Robertson were unavailable due to their recent workloads, so the ball went to Joba Chamberlain in the ninth inning with a one-run lead. He struck out the first man he faced despite falling behind in the count 3-0, but the next two reached base (solid single to left, infield single to third). The tying run was in scoring position, but Joba rebounded to get the second out on a pop-up and the third on a ground ball to third. It was nerve-wracking for sure, but it goes down as the righty’s first save since 2010.
- Leftovers: Chris Stewart was responsible for the unearned run after dropping Ichiro Suzuki‘s throw home on a sacrifice fly. The throw was right on line, well ahead of the runner and on a perfect one hop right to Stewart’s mitt, but he muffed it and the runner was safe. He’s a classic Nichols Law catcher … Jayson Nix may have saved a run in the ninth by snagging Emilio Bonifacio’s hard-hit ground ball. If the ball gets by him and heads into the corner, the Blue Jays would have tied the game at worst and put the tying run at third at best … Robinson Cano had two hits including a double, and Vernon Wells singled him one batter later to tie the game in the seventh. Kevin Youkilis was the only player in the lineup who failed to record a hit, but we’ll cut him some slack since he missed the last week with back trouble.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. You can’t win or lose a division title in April, but the Yankees have a chance to really bury the Blue Jays on Sunday by completing a rare four-game series sweep. If they do finish that sweep, they’re going to earn it because reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey will be on the bump for Toronto. New York will counter with Phil Hughes. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game.