That first win after an extended losing streak always feels great. The Yankees snapped their five-game skid with a 4-1 win over the Red Sox on Friday in a game that featured an awful lot of positives. It was more than just a win in the standings. Let’s recap:
- Ain’t Dead Yet: CC Sabathia‘s career obituary was being written a few days ago, but he responded with a dominant ten-strikeout showing against Boston, allowing just one run in 7.1 innings. His fastball averaged 92.6 mph and topped out at 94.4 mph according to PitchFX, and he held it deep into the game — his final pitch (#109) registered 92.6 mph. Sabathia had maybe his best slider of the year, getting seven swings and misses out of the 17 he threw. He also recorded 19 of his 22 outs on the infield. It was vintage CC and it was something the Yankees desperately needed to see. Huge game for him.
- Patience: New York didn’t exactly hit the snot out of the ball — six singles and one double, that’s all — but there were a lot of quality at-bats and deep counts. It’s not a coincidence that happened on the night Mark Teixeira (leadoff walk in the second sparked a two-run rally) and Kevin Youkilis (run-scoring single in the fifth) returned to the lineup — those guys saw a combined 36 pitches in eight plate appearances. After collectively going three games without a walk, Brett Gardner drew a free pass to open the game. Jon Lester also walked two of the first four men he faced. As team, the Yankees averaged 4.24 pitches per plate appearances on Friday compared to 3.73 during the four games against the Mets. Huge difference.
- Four Runs Is Enough: It only felt like the Yankees broke out offensively against Lester. Four runs against him is pretty good, but they aren’t out of the wood just yet. Jayson Nix and Ichiro Suzuki plated the first two runs with singles following Teixeira’s walk and Vernon Wells’ booming double to center, then three innings later Youkilis singled in the third run. Gardner slapped a two-strike single to left for an insurance run in the seventh. Lester settled down in the middle innings, but the Yankees got to him early and late. Going 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position sure helped as well.
- Leftovers: David Robertson retired both men he faced and Mariano Rivera pitched around two ground ball singles in the ninth for his 19th save … Chris Stewart killed one rally with a ground ball double play and another by foolishly trying to go first-to-third on a single to left. He can’t seem to get out of his own way … believe it or not, the three through seven hitters went a combined 2-for-16 with two walks … Sabathia posted his first zero-walk, double-digit strikeout game since 2008 with the Brewers. He hadn’t done it against an AL team since 2007.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The win moves the Yankees back into a tie (in the loss column) with the Red Sox atop the AL East. Chris Dickerson and the Orioles walked off against the Tigers, so they remain one back in the loss column. Phil Hughes and Felix Doubront match up in the second game of this three-game set on Saturday night. Check out RAB Tickets for last minute ticket deals.