Sabathia’s Gem Is Basis for 3-2 Win in Anaheim

From MLB.com’s Thomas Boorstein:

ANAHEIM — During his three seasons with the Yankees, CC Sabathia has become increasingly reliant on his changeup. For batters facing a left-hander whose fastball averages 92 mph, offspeed pitches in the 80s can be devastating.

Sabathia didn’t have command of his changeup early on Saturday, but he sorted things out soon enough. With the help of home runs from Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees’ ace worked into the ninth inning of the Yankees’ 3-2 win over the Angels. Sabathia came within one out of his second complete game of the season but instead settled for his fourth straight start of eight innings or more. Over that stretch, he has allowed seven runs.

“It was huge for me tonight,” Sabathia said of his changeup. “The only reason I pitched eight innings tonight was because I was able to get some swings early, get some weak fly balls and some ground balls with that pitch. A couple of years ago, I probably would have been in trouble, not being able to command it if I didn’t have it early.”

“It just keeps the hitters off-balanced,” manager Joe Girardi said. “And they can’t sit hard on him. You know you’re going to get your share of fastballs off him, but when you have that changeup, it just gets them out front. It gets popups, and that’s what he did tonight.

Sabathia (7-3) finished with 107 pitches and said he was helped out by the Angels’ aggressive approach. After the Yankees jumped ahead in the sixth, Sabathia needed only 12 pitches to get through the next two innings.

“That was something I was trying to do consciously,” Sabathia said. “It was a 3-1 game. I just wanted to go out and try to shut the door. Especially that next inning, get us back in the dugout. They helped me out a lot by swinging early.”

“CC was smart,” Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said. “He had a lot of offspeed, keeping guys off balance. He still throws 94, 95. He’s a smarter pitcher than when I saw him in Cleveland all the time. The last couple years, he’s changed. He pitched well. That’s why he’s one of the best, if not the best, in the game.”

After Derek Jeter ended a 15-pitch at-bat with a flyout on Friday, Cano ended a 10-pitch, fourth-inning encounter with Ervin Santana by depositing a ball just over the wall in right field. Hunter made an unsuccessful leap for the ball and ended up in the seats.

After the game, Cano joked that he would have come after Hunter in right field had the Gold Glover added to his career highlight reel.

“That’s the kind of thing that you say, “Go, go, go, go, go,’ and then you see him jumping and I said, ‘Oh, no,'” Cano said. “Then you see the ball bounce, I said, ‘OK, we’re cool.'”

Despite the end result, Cano wasn’t happy with the 10-pitch at-bat. He thought he should have walked before he gave the Yankees the lead.

“I was swinging at everything,” Cano said. “One of those sliders was in the dirt. I was swinging at everything, and that’s not where I want to be. You want to just take those pitches and take your walks and just swing at better pitches.”

Rodriguez did not have to expand the zone in the sixth, when he broke a 1-1 tie by turning around a Santana fastball into the artificial rock pile in left-center field.

“Just a good pitch to hit,” Rodriguez said. “Right down the middle, and I put a good swing on it.”

Sabathia had some help in the field from Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher. Rodriguez made a diving stop for the second out in the ninth inning, and Teixiera helped strand the tying run in the eighth by making a headlong dive to first base to retire Howard Kendrick. Swisher’s sliding catch in the fifth helped make sure Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar, the top two hitters in the Angels’ order, went a combined 0-for-9.

“Those plays were huge,” Sabathia said. “Swisher’s was huge. Anytime you can keep Aybar, Izturis off the bases, you don’t have to worry about them running, and it’s good.”

Prior to his stumble in the ninth, Sabathia had weakened only in the fourth. Alberto Callaspo led off with a double and moved to third on a Kendrick grounder to short. Jeter booted the ball, however, and the Angels had runners at first and third with none out. After a popup to third, Jeff Mathis hit a fly ball to center that would have been the third out but instead allowed Callaspo to tag up and score.

Jeter, who ended a scoring chance in the fifth by grounding into a double play, recorded his first hit of the series in the seventh to move to 2,985 for his career.

Sabathia became the first Yankee pitcher in 25 years to win four straight starts and throw at least eight innings in each of them. But he would not have done that had he not persisted with his offspeed pitch.

“Early, it was terrible,” Sabathia said. “I always stick with it though, and it ended up being a good pitch for me tonight.”

Boxscore:

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
NYY
0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0   3 7 1
LAA
0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1   2 8 0
SV: Rivera (15)
NY Yankees AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Jeter, SS 3 0 1 0 1 0 2 .261
Granderson, CF 3 1 1 0 1 1 4 .273
Teixeira, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 .249
Rodriguez, Al, 3B 4 1 1 2 0 2 0 .291
Cano, 2B 4 1 1 1 0 0 0 .278
Martin, C 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 .236
Swisher, RF 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 .213
Dickerson, RF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .308
Posada, DH 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 .169
Gardner, LF 3 0 2 0 0 0 1 .252
Totals 32 3 7 3 3 6 9 .250
NY Yankees IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Sabathia(W, 7-3) 8.2 8 2 1 1 3 0 2.80
Rivera, Ma(S, 15) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.99
Totals 9.0 8 2 1 1 3 0 3.46
 

About Mike D.

Mike D. is one of 2 co-founders of the Yankees Fans Unite Blog. He has been a Yankees fan for as long as he can remember, growing up in a family of huge NYY fans. His knowledge of the game comes from watching baseball his whole life, and playing third base in high school and college.

Posted on June 5, 2011, in Game Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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