Well, that was disappointing. I was hoping that Yankees would either hold on to a 1-0 lead or score more insurance runs. But the Tigers scored two in the bottom of seventh and held on to that lead. The offense couldn’t show up and the winning streak got cut short at three. For shame.
I CC-you, Sabathia
The hefty lefty didn’t necessarily have a great first two starts, but, as many mentioned, he had the peripherals that suggested he’s pitching better than his ERA suggested.
Tonight, Sabathia delivered easily the best outing of the young 2015 season. He tossed eight innings, allowed two runs (only one ER), seven hits, three walks and struck out five. He kept inducing ground balls (50% GB rate) and his season rate remains a high 61.4 %. Even though his fastball was around 89~91 miles per hour range, CC dominated the hot Tigers lineup (lead AL in wRC+ prior to tonight’s game with 136) and did what he could do to deserve a win.
Besides the result, I think tonight’s performance also affirmed that CC’s new ground ball-happy approach can get him nice outings. Sure, we all miss the old overpowering Sabathia but when you don’t have the heat anymore, but baseball doesn’t adjust to you – you have to adjust to baseball. I remember Mike Mussina saw his effectiveness decline after his average fastball velocity went down from 88.6 mph in 2006 to 87.1 mph in 2007. Then in 2008, he managed to turn in his first-ever 20-win season “…observers noticed him pitching down and in more effectively, changing speeds like a master.” If CC can have that kind of renaissance for the remaining portion of contract, sign me up.
Anyways, good game, CC. But life ain’t a box of chocolate, nor a bed of roses…
The 7th Inning Wretch
CC. was chugging along up to the seventh inning. In fact, he could have gotten out of it unscathed. Rajai Davis led off with a base hit but CC got the next two big hitters – Kinsler and Cabrera – out.
With two outs and the runner on first, the Yanks decided to intentionally walk Victor Martinez. Even though Martinez was 0-for-2 at the time, he tattooed the ball in each previous at-bats – Gardner robbed him of an XBH in the second inning and Ellsbury did the same in the fifth. Also, he’s got a pedigree of, you know, being a dangerous hitter so they decided to pitch to the next hitter, J.D. Martinez.
Now, I thought it was interesting that Yanks chose to pitch to J.D. rather than Victor. I assume it was based a lot on how CC fared against them. As I mentioned, Victor hit the ball hard twice against Sabathia while J.D. struck out and, well, lined out to center. I guess it came down to that New York felt more comfortable having Sabathia pitch to J.D..
On the third pitch of the at-bat, Martinez hit a hard liner towards Didi Gregorius and it deflected off the shortstop’s glove and trickled down slowly to left field, allowing Davis to score. Ugh. That just adds to Didi’s “replacing the Jeets” saga, doesn’t it? I know, I really wish Didi would’ve been able to handle that but again, that was a very hard-hit ball – the bottom line is that Yanks got the short end of the BABIP dragon’s favor. That could have gone either way. Hopefully Didi makes that play in the future.
The next hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, squeaked a grounder through the middle to drive in another run. CC did his job inducing a grounder but it just didn’t go to his ideal way. J.D. Martinez was caught in a rundown between second and third base for the final out of the inning but the damage has been done – the Tigers took a 2-1 lead and the score didn’t change again.
Offense Comes Up Short
I don’t feel like making another pun so I’m going with an uncreative section title here but… it’s true. Tigers’ starting pitcher, Alfredo Simon, is no scrub honestly. I know ERA is not a perfect stat but since 2012, in 358.1 IP, the man has a 3.11 ERA (121 ERA+). But with Sabathia delivering his best start in long while, I really wish the offense had given more support.
Leading off the second inning, Mark Teixeira hit a diving 84 miles per hour splitter for a solo homer. He had to reach way down to drive it and, honestly, on the first glance, I didn’t know it was going to be anywhere close to the seats. It’s also his first left-handed homer of the season so that’s that. Tex hitting a homer like that makes me feel that his power’s come back but… that was pretty much the only bright spot in offense.
After the Tex homer, Simon held the Yankees scoreless. Yanks weren’t particularly successful in driving the ball as they grounded out a whopping 11 times and only McCann managed for another XBH with a second-inning double.
Oh and this one hurt. In the eighth inning with one out, Gregorius, who hasn’t had the best time with his bat, hit a single to knock Simon out of the game. Detroit brought in the former Yankee
prodigy pitcher Joba Chamberlain to face Jacoby Ellsbury. The speedy center fielder grounded into a rally-killing double play to end the threat. Womp.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Oh, and if there’s any more positive from tonight’s game, the bullpen arms got to rest thanks to CC’s complete game. Everyone should be ready to go tomorrow. Hope Nathan Eovaldi can go longer than five innings this time though.
Tomorrow the Yanks are back at it again at the same time, same place. Two young pitchers – Nathan Eovaldi and Kyle Lobstein – will be facing off. Better luck tomorrow, start a new win streak, etc.