For the bulk of last night’s game, it felt like one of those dreary, run deficient games we’ve seen so many times this year. The Yankees put runners on base, but couldn’t follow up with anything meaningful. Already down three, it felt as though they’d just swing their way to the 27th out. But then things turned around, and in the ninth the Yankees delivered one of the best endings of the season.
With the game tied at one heading into the fourth, CC Sabathia melted down. He allowed a leadoff double to Juan Rivera, which was the second ball he’d hit well in two at-bats. J.P. Arencibia then knocked him home with a single to center. Two bloop singles to right resulted in another run, and then John McDonald laid down a safety squeeze — predictable, yet apparently unstoppable. Worse, Robinson Cano forgot to catch the ball at first base. Everyone’s safe.
The Yanks did catch a break, which seemed impossible at the time. Yunel Escobar, who has a .341 OBP this year and .338 for his career, laid down a sac bunt. It went right back to Sabathia, thankfully, so Rajai Davis could not score from third. But the snake came right back with another bite, as Sabathia walked Corey Patterson — Corey Patterson — to load the bases for Jose Bautista. Bless that man for swinging at the first pitch and grounding it right to Jeter.
When the dust had settled the score was 4-1 Blue Jays. The Yanks put runners on base in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, but blundered their way to zero runs. That leads us to.
The setup (you need this)
While Curtis Granderson had contributed to the cause with a pair of singles, he equally contributed to the frustration when he got picked off in the fifth (though he had the right idea by just dashing for second and not looking back). He redeemed himself by doubling to lead off the eighth. The optimism ran high for a moment, though it was replaced by defeatism when Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez both made outs. Only Robinson Cano could save them.
To everyone’s surprise, he took a pair of pitches in the at-bat before doubling deep into the right-center field gap. Granderson jogged home, and Cano put himself in position to score. That happened on the next pitch, as Russ Martin, whose homer accounted for the first run, grounded one right back up the middle. Nick Swisher had the same idea, to swing at the first pitch, but that won’t work as well for slumping hitters. He ended the rally with a routine pop up.
Jorge Posada got the night off against the lefty Romero, but with the righty Frank Francisco in the game, he was primed to pinch hit. The opportunity came with one out, in Eduardo Nunez‘s spot. It seemed like a somewhat curious decision, since Nunez has been a-ok with the bat in his limited time this season. Of course, Jorge has the track record, and he’s a lefty, so he gets the call. Plus, it’s not as though he was going to pinch hit for Jeter, anyway.
Posada answered the call on the first pitch, smacking one into the right-center field gap. Jose Bautista did the Yanks a solid by fumbling with the ball, and Posada snuck into second because of it. That was big not only because it put the tying run in scoring position, but it took off the double play. With Derek Jeter at the plate, that becomes all the more important. He did work a quality at-bat, but ended up grounding out to short — probably a double play if Chris Dickerson, pinch-running for Posada, was standing on first and not second. Then again, he might have been running, as he was when Jeter put the ball in play. He thought about dashing home, but played it safe.
Then came the hero, Curtis Granderson. Even when the offense is having a bad game, he’s still doing his thing. He came through in a big way in this at-bat, singling home Dickerson to tie the game, and then swiping second base. That made all the difference, as Mark Teixeira hit one that glanced off first baseman Juan Rivera’s glove and into the outfield, which gave Granderson all the time he needed to score the winning run. Funny, how Teixeira won the game with a ball in play that he himself almost certainly would have nabbed for an out.
CC’s big-time performance
Other than the fourth inning, CC Sabathia was marvelous last night. In fact, he was perfect from the fifth on, using just 102 pitches to complete nine innings. He struck out only three, and he walked four, but the 14 ground balls he induced made the game a bit more manageable. It also kept his pitch count down. The bullpen got another night off, and Sabathia recorded the team’s first complete game victory since he did it against the Orioles in May, 2009.
Also, there are no leftovers. This game pretty much sucked until the end.
Box and graph
So check it out. FanGraphs has this new, super awesome box score this year. It has the WPA graph, followed by the traditional box, then the play-by-play, and then the detailed stats. It has basically everything you could look for. I recommend clicking on the Standard tab, since it breaks down all the standard happenings. If you still like the traditional box you can check it out at MLB.com, but the FanGraphs boxes are just killer.
The Yanks wrap up this series and homestand at 1 p.m. tomorrow, with Freddy Garcia going against Jo Jo Reyes.