Yankees survive late rally to finish off sweep of White Sox

Austin backs up trash talk in Trenton's walk-off win in Game One of the playoffs
The 11-game Moment of Truth starts today

That was an unnecessarily stressful game. But, a win is a win is a win. The Yankees returned the favor and completed the sweep of the last place White Sox on Wednesday night, surviving a late-inning rally for the 6-5 victory.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Four In The Fourth
To give you an idea of how out of it the ChiSox are, they had three players make their big league debuts in this game. One of the three was starting pitcher Erik Johnson, who coughed up a solo homer to Robinson Cano in the first before striking out Ichiro Suzuki to escape a bases loaded jam later in the inning. He settled down briefly before the Yankees took him out behind the woodshed in the fourth inning.

That inning started innocently enough, with an Alex Rodriguez ground ball single back up the middle. Ichiro grounded back to the pitcher, but Johnson floated the throw over to first and Jeff Keppinger wasn’t able to scoop it out of the dirt. With runners on first and second with no outs, the Yankees turned Lyle Overbay loose in a 3-0 count and he came through with a run-scoring double. After Austin Romine grounded out, Brett Gardner sliced a two-run triple into the left-center field gap for two more runs and a 4-1 lead. I have no idea how that ball went for three bases, the White Sox outfielders looked like they were running in slow motion. Don’t get he wrong, it was hit hard and sure extra-base hit, but it took them forever to retrieve the ball.

Cano brought in Gardner with an infield single later in the inning, capping off the four-run attack. Johnson threw a first pitch strike to just two of the first seven batters in the inning — Romine on the ground out and Cano’s first-pitch single. Everyone else was ahead in the count 1-0 or better at one point. Tough to live life that way, but that is what rookie pitchers do. They struggle to throw strikes and get hurt. The Yankees capitalized on Johnson’s throwing error and his general young pitcheritis.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

A Better Sabathia
Much like Hiroki Kuroda on Tuesday night, CC Sabathia probably would have gotten clobbered had he been facing a Major League caliber lineup on Wednesday. A pair of walks and a double gave the White Sox a first inning run, but Sabathia settled down and kept Chicago in check from the second through seventh innings. He did put a man on base in every inning but the seventh, however. To be fair, one base-runner came on an error and two others came with the bases empty and two outs. Not the end of the world, really.

The final line was three runs on five hits and four walks in 7.1 innings of work, with four strikeouts and eleven ground outs compared to six in the air. Sabathia wasn’t on the mound when the second and third runs scored. He also completed a full seven innings of work for the first time in five five starts and just the second time in ten starts. Seven innings used to be the minimum for this guy. The White Sox are the worst lefty hitting team in baseball and they didn’t exactly knock Sabathia around the park (lots of bloops, really), so maybe this is something he build off confidence-wise. He’s still clearly not the guy we’re used to seeing, but at this point CC just needs to give the team enough of a chance to win. Sabathia did that on Wednesday.

Almost Death By Bullpen
Despite the comfortable five-run lead, Girardi went to David Robertson to finish off the eighth because he needed some work. He had not pitched in four days and only pitched once in the last nine days. The rust showed, as Robertson allowed four of the five batters he faced to reach base. Three singles and one walk to the unwalkable (career 5.2% walk rate) Dayan Viciedo turned a five-run lead into a one-run lead in a real hurry. An easy win suddenly became a nail-biter.

With the tying run on second and the go-ahead run on first with two outs, Girardi didn’t screw around. He brought in Mariano Rivera for his first four-out save since July 2011. Mo struck out Alejandro De Aza looking on seven pitches to end the eighth inning rally before retiring the side in order on eight pitches in the ninth. Nice and easy. It would have been nice to get Rivera a night off, especially since they led by five runs at one point, but every win is important and I’m glad he aggressively went to his two best relievers in big situations. Robertson just had an off night.

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

It was an afterthought at the time, but Alfonso Soriano plated Derek Jeter with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning for what looked like a simple tack-on run. That eventually became the winning run given the ChiSox’s eighth inning rally. Jeter walked and moved to third on Cano’s single earlier in the inning. They had runners on the corners with one out and it could have been a huge inning, but Curtis Granderson lined a ball right at the first baseman for a double play. Sucks.

Once again, Cano led the offense with a homer and two singles while Gardner singled and tripled. Those two accounted for five of the team’s eight hits while A-Rod, Overbay, and Granderson (double) had the others. Jeter, Soriano, A-Rod, and Overbay each drew a walk. Johnson struck out just one batter — Ichiro to end the first inning rally — and the Yankees struck out just three times as a team.

Former Yankee C.J. Nitkowski covered for Suzyn Waldman in the WCBS 880 booth while she was away for the Jewish holiday, and while I didn’t hear any of the broadcast, he was supposedly excellent. Maybe he’ll fill in again at some point.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
See? The graph says the White Sox weren’t all that all close to coming back and winning the game. You had nothing to worry about. Anyway, for the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees have a one-game lead over both the Indians and Orioles in the loss column and, depending on the outcome of the late game, they’ll either be three games (Rays win) or two games (Rays win) back of the second wildcard spot. Cool Standings has their playoff odds at 18.3% at the moment.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Red Sox are coming to town for an extended four-game weekend set. Needless to say, that will be an enormous series for the Yankees. Ivan Nova and Jake Peavy kick things off on Thursday night. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live. Only ten more home games left in the regular season, you know.

Austin backs up trash talk in Trenton's walk-off win in Game One of the playoffs
The 11-game Moment of Truth starts today
  • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

    Angels really are a bunch of worthless turds, aren’t they?

    Good luck winning that Price/Williams game tomorrow. Good luck winning a home game against the Rays when you’re 4-15 against the Rays at home the past four seasons.

    • vicki

      yeah, thought they had a chance with the jered weaver start, but young wil sure has his number.

      • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

        Someone needs to plant on in Wil Myers ribs at some point.

        No, I’m not one of those halcyon “disrespect” honks, but I do find it a bit irritating seeing a rookie with the brass and arrogant bat flips that Wil Myers has. He was doing the exact same thing against Phil Hughes.

        • SDB

          Maybe Dumpster, dispenser of justice throughout the AL East, can do it.

          If he can manage to actually hit his ribs with his first four pitches.

    • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

      Halos only play hard when they’re playing the Yanks

    • Get Phelps Up

      At least they managed to take a series at the Trop.

  • http://www.penuel-law.com/ Cuso

    Is it too much to ask for an easy win? Didn’t Boston have like an 18-4 lead over DETROIT tonight?

    Conspiracy theory: the real reason Hughes was sent to the pen is because Joba will be used this week for beaming several Red Sox and we’ll need the extra garbage time arm (Hughes) in the pen.

    • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

      The only beaming Joba will do is when he guzzles his Jim Beam® bottle

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    Well now that the calendar’s turned over it’s time to start the Red Sox collapse. 8 games back with 23 to play? Well, guess we know what’s on the visiting clubhouse menu for tomorrow…

  • dkidd

    red sox scored all their runs for the week tonight

    they’re due to cool off, and once they do, new england fandom’s contagious clusterfuck of panic and doom-addiction will take over and things will snowball…

  • HateMclouth (formerly I’mVernon)

    Was there today and boy the YS faithful got tough on D-Rob there in the 8th. I was getting a bit impatient myself, but without the D-Rob implosion Mo probably wouldn’t have pitched, so there’s that.

  • forensic

    I believe they said Nitkowski will be back for a game or two this weekend as Waldman is gone for more holiday’s. He was a little monotone, but overall did seem pretty good.

    Hopefully the Red Sox tired themselves out tonight going around the bases so many times, though they were able to jog on most of them.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      He was OK. Like you said, a bit monotone, but definitely more serious in his approach. More what some fans want, I’m sure, but it was an awkward fit.

    • SDB

      I enjoyed listening to him. Monotonic but insightful and informative. I’ll take that over screechingly painful and not adding anything much.

    • PFOJ

      I caught an inning of the radio broadcast last night. Nitkowski sounded like a guy who isn’t used to being on radio, a lot of tripping on his words and such. Still, he is the most knowledgeable baseball man to be in the Yankee radio booth in my lifetime and it showed.

    • Denver – Ralph

      Happened to be in the car for the entire game. Thought he did a good job for his first game on the radio. (I am assuming that was his first, not stating as fact)

      Definitely agree that he was a little monotone but definitely has the knowledge and potential.

      He took his time doing the “Out of Town Scoreboard Reports” which was a little annoying but overall a nice job and something he can build on.

  • Jeff

    Great win. Mo just locked things down. We got ourselves in position to make a run at this thing. In 308 tonight. People were getting a little nervous when Hughes started warming up and mo was late to come out. They opened the bullpen door and started the bloopers on the jumbo tron. Alas, mo emerged, Phil sat, and frank came on a few moments later.

    • forensic

      They opened the bullpen door and started the bloopers

      Ah, so that’s gonna be Hughes’ entry music/video. Fitting…

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Thinking of this led to me thinking about blooper-worthy Yankee relievers of years past, which led me to LaTroy Hawkins, which led me to this inevitability….


  • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

    Just had a bad feeling all it was gonna take for the Rays to get back on track was going to their home away from home. For a team that is as streaky in both directions as they are, the last thing the Yankees need is another prolonged winning streak from them. We already know the Yankees will need to win tomorrow night to stay within 2.5 games of them, but I want to think there’s a chance they could struggle this weekend, you know, facing Iwakuma and Felix.

    We can hope.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Meh. They’ve won 2 games in a row. They’re probably more pissed we got to play the Chisox.

  • JLC 776

    Well, if you want to go far, you have to beat the teams that beat up on you. That’s most assuredly Tampa and Boston.