You know, it’s a shame the Blue Jays are still shook from Mark Teixeira bat-flipping the ever-loving crap out of that home run Monday night, otherwise this sweep of the Red Sox would have been so much sweeter. The Yankees won Thursday’s series finale 5-1, but because the Orioles beat the Blue Jays, New York has been officially eliminated from the postseason. Sucks. I can’t say I expect this team to be in it until Game 159 though. The 2016 Yankees were much more fun than the 2013-14 clubs.
Sabathia’s Stellar Season
What a way for CC Sabathia to close out his rock solid and occasionally great bounceback season. The last few years have been tough for him on the mound, and I’m sure personally as well given his battle with alcoholism, yet he was able to put together his best season in four years in 2016. He held the Red Sox to one run — a Xander Bogaerts solo home run — in 7.1 innings Thursday night, giving him a 3.91 ERA (4.28 FIP) in 179.2 innings.
Sabathia started Thursday’s game by striking out each of the first four batters he faced, and never once did the BoSox have multiple runners on base at the same time. There were no sticky situations. No jams. Nothing like that. Aside from the home run, Sabathia didn’t allow a single runner to advance as far as second base. Granted, the Red Sox rolled out a split squad lineup the day after clinching the AL East, but still. They were shut right down.
Hands down, Sabathia’s resurgence was one of the best parts of this 2016 season. He was a warrior for the Yankees all those years, back when they were still going to the postseason every year, so much so that he pitched through hamstring problems and a bone spur in his elbow. All the wear and tear has taken its toll the last few years, but with a new cutter and a clear mind, Sabathia was able to regain effectiveness this year. Well done, CC. You’re still a boss.
Take The Lead And Tack-On
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Starlin Castro‘s double, which drove in Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury walked and stole second earlier in the inning. The BoSox tied things up on the Bogaerts homer, and the score remained 1-1 into the fifth inning. Aaron Hicks popped up a bunt but the Red Sox misplayed it — it fell between Henry Owens and Deven Marrero behind the mound — and Ellsbury made them pay with a run-scoring double.
One inning later, the Yankees turned that 2-1 lead into a 4-1 lead despite not hitting the ball all that hard. Castro singled, Didi Gregorius popped up, Chase Headley walked, and Brian McCann blooped a single to load the bases with one out. Yet another hit with runners in scoring position that didn’t actually score a run. The Yankees have to lead the league in those. In fairness, it looked like the McCann bloop had a chance to be caught before the wind knocked it down in a hurry.
Anyway, Hicks managed to turn a 3-0 count into an unproductive fly ball to shallow right, too shallow to score the run, but Tyler Austin picked him up with a bases loaded walk to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. A wild pitch by Robby Scott brought home New York’s fourth run of the game. Hicks doubled home McCann all the way from first base (!) in the eighth for a 5-1 lead. McCann chugging all the way around from first was a thing of beauty. It was like third base coach Joe Espada sent him just for the laughs.
The David Ortiz ceremony before the game was well done. Simple and classy. The Yankees gave him a book with personalized notes from their players and others associated with the organization, plus an oil painting of Ortiz at Yankee Stadium. It was pretty nice. Nothing goofy. Succinct and respectful. Lots of cheers too, which kinda surprised me, but whatever.
Tyler Clippard (two outs) and Richard Bleier (three outs) were the only relievers used after Sabathia. Dellin Betances was warming up for the save situation, though he didn’t get into the game once the Yankees tacked on that fifth run in the bottom of the eighth. I’m sure we’ll see Betances again at some point this weekend. Joe Girardi said he wants to get him back out there at some point.
Gary Sanchez hit two loud home runs … just foul. For shame. He officially went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. Yikes. That was his worst game as a big leaguer. Ellsbury had two hits and two walks, Castro had two hits, and McCann had two hits. The Yankees drew seven walks as a team. Sanchez and Gregorius were the only starters who failed to reach base.
And finally, the Orioles did indeed beat the Blue Jays up in Toronto, eliminating the Yankees from postseason contention. Nothing left to do this weekend other than play spoiler. Baltimore’s magic number over the Tigers for the second wildcard spot is three. Winning at least two of three this weekend will be a big help for Detroit.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN is the place to go for the box score and updated standings. MLB.com has the video highlights. RAB has Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:
The final series of the season. Hard to believe the season is almost over, isn’t it? The Orioles will be in the Bronx for three games. Yovani Gallardo and Michael Pineda are Friday’s scheduled starters. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for any of these final three games.