I CC What You Did There: Thoughts on Sabathia and the OK Yankees after Last Night’s Win
For his second consecutive start, CC Sabathia started for the Yankees following an embarrassing loss to a rebuilding team. This time, Sabathia was following up a loss to . And, for the second consecutive start, Sabathia pitched five strong innings and left his team in a position to win the game. While he was shakier tonight, Sabathia bended but did not break, leading the Yankees a 6 to 2 victory over the Royals.
After not walking a batter in his first start, Sabathia gave out four free passes to Kansas City. The big lefty was lights out with runners in scoring position, as the Royals only had one hit in five chances against Sabathia.
Sabathia’s most struggles came in the third inning. CC walked leadoff batter Martin Maldonado and then threw a bunt from speedy Terrance Gore away, allowing the runners to advance to second and third with no outs. Facing the pesky Whit Merrifield, Sabathia forced Merrirfield to hit a shallow fly ball to right that allowed Clint Frazier to charge, gain momentum, and throw a bullet to gun Maldonado out at home.
Almost out of the water, Sabathia was then forced to work around a Luke Voigt error, allowing Billy Hamilton to reach. He then gave up the only blip on his night, a single up the middle to Adalberto Mondesi to score Gore from third. After a double-steal from Hamilton and Mondesi and a walk to Hunter Dozier, Sabathia was tasked with the red-hot Alex Gordon with the bases loaded. Sabathia won the battle, forcing Gordon to hit a weak force-out back to catcher Kyle Higashioka. The Royals could have ran away with the game again pretty quickly in that inning, but Sabathia kept a level head and set down Kansas City, giving New York time to get going on offense.
Along the way, Sabathia allowed only one unearned run and struck out five batter. Sabathia is now six strikeouts away from 3,000. Based on his recent performances, Sabathia should get there soon. The next step from Sabathia is going deeper and giving the bullpen some more rest. Aside from that, CC’s last ride is off to a smooth start.
JUST ENOUGH OFFENSE
As for the other side of the ball, the Yankees had a decent night on offense. After a slow start against Royals starter Jakob Junis, the Bombers got kickstarted by another long-ball from Brett Gardner. His two-run jack – his second go-ahead home run this week – gave the Yankees a lead they would never relinquish.
After that, the Yankees were able to score enough runs to keep their lead comfortable, yet never quite ran away with the game. In the sixth inning, with the bases loaded and no outs, the Yankees were only able to push two runs across against a tiring Junis and Jake Diekman, who had a 4.70 ERA going into the game. The next inning, the Yankees had a golden opportunity to blow out a struggling Brad Boxberger (9.72 ERA, three home runs allowed in 8.1 innings). Yet, they were only able to place one run.
Granted, six runs are better than the one the Bombers put up against Homer Bailey and company. Yet, it feels as though the Yankees, who had a .394 on-base-percentage last night, could have done more. The Royals are a team that should be buried and two nights in a row the Yankees gave the team opportunities to come back in the game. Even with a myriad of players injured, the Bombers should be able to push more runs across against a weak team like the Royals.
MOMENTUM = THE NEXT DAY’S STARTING PITCHER
For his second consecutive start, Masahiro Tanaka is following a strong start by Sabathia with a chance to pile on against a weak American League Central Team. This time, however, Tanaka looks to garner a win. Tanaka’s strong start was halted after allowing a grand slam to Tim Anderson.
Now, he did receive more support, but Tanaka needs to come out and dominate against a weak team like the Royals. He needs to play into the aggressiveness of this young lineup and force Kansas City to swing over the top of his breaking pitches. That way, Tanaka can work quickly, get his offense up to bat, and, most importantly, go deep in the game. Basically, if he pitches more like he did in his first two starts, Tanaka should dominate the Royals.