Sabathia Dominates, Swisher on a Tear as Yanks Win Third Straight 6-1

CC Sabathia was brilliant tonight in a dominant 6-1 win, certainly atoning for his abysmal Opening Day start with a tremendous 7 2/3 IP stint, allowing just 6 hits, no walks, no runs, and fanning 6 while hitting two on 108 pitches/73 strikes.  He lit up the radar gun early and often, reaching 95-97 with regularity including 95 on his last fastball, while also throwing his off-speed stuff for strikes.  I was a bit surprised that he opened the eighth, but he finished strong. In all, he was in total command, making it three straight good starts or better from Burnett, Pettite, and Sabathia.  Hopefully after a somewhat long layoff, and against putative Royals ace Gil Meche, Joba can keep it rolling.

The Yanks cranked it up in the first inning, scoring two in the first for the second straight game.  JD blooped a single, Swisher walked, Matsui lined out to center, and Jorge mashed a double to the opposite field in right to score two.  Sabathia fanned three out of the first four batters he faced, looking like a different, more confident this time out.  Clearly, the bullpen CC had with Dave Eiland helped immensely.  After hitting Gordon, Sabathia induced Aviles to hit into a 5-4-3 DP to end the second, part of 10 ground outs Sabathia got tonight–a good sign.

The Yanks added on two more in the third when Jeter singled to right and stole second, moved to third on JD’s unselfish grounder to first, and scored on Swish’s RBI triple that scooted under the glove of Bloomquist, 3-0 Yanks. After Matsui grounded out, Jorge doubled to left, 4-0 Yanks. After Gardner’s rare GIDP erased Nady’s lead-off single, Sabathia provided my first incidental call of the 2009 season.  Callaspo got a cheap infield hit on a slow roller, De Jesus singled to center to put runners on first and second, no outs.  I asked in tonight’s Digital Living Room if a K and DP were too much to ask.  Apparently they weren’t, for Sabathia promptly fanned Butler on three pitches, buzzing Butler with a 95-mph fastball under the hands, then getting Gordon on the ol’ inning-ending 4-6-3.  OOOOOHH YEEEAAAHH!!

So often last year, it seemed, the Yanks would blow an opportunity, then allow runs.  This time and this year, they’re turning the tables.  After nipping the fourth-inning trouble in the bud, the Yanks repeated their every-other-inning pattern of two runs in the fifth.  JD walked and Swish positively moidalized (cf. a Mr. B. Bunny) a Ramirez fastball to left, 6-0 Yanks.  Matsui’s subsequent double went unrequited, but after that, it was in the capable hands of Sabathia anyway.  Aviles singled, and Olivo’s one-out grounder to Ransom forced a high throw to second, with both Aviles and Olivo safe.  But Sabathia got an F8 and a force play at second to escape the trouble.  Before discussing Sabathia’s sixth, it’s worth mentioning that Jeter had a terrific nine-pitch walk in the sixth, a tremendous at-bat for The Captain.  CC again skirted trouble in the sixth when Jeter snared a sinking liner from Callaspo, Sabathia hit DeJesus, Butler flew out to Brett the Jet, Teahan singled to center to put runners at the corners, but a comebacker to Sabathia put that brief rally to bed.

When Sabathia worked around Jacobs’s lead-off single in an 11-pitch seventh, I thought he was done for the night.  Yet the big guy came out for the eighth, getting two outs and pushing his pitch count to 108 before giving way to Veras’s successful bid to blow Sabathia’s shutout.  No matter, the big man was excellent tonight, helping to hold the Royals to 0-8 with RISP.  Between Sabathia’s and Pettite’s gems, the Royals don’t have a hit with RISP thus far this series (0-12).  6-1 Yanks, and it rarely felt that close.

You really can’t say enough good about what Swish has done thus far, going 2-3 with a triple, a homer, 3 runs, 3 RBIs (9 on the year), and 2 walks.  His average is .538, OBP .625, six of his 7 hits have been for extra bases–in 13 at-bats.  Although it’s impossible to sit him right now, a very small part of me wishes Girardi would just to augment that chip on his shoulder that has no doubt fueled his anger and focus after the Yanks’ acquisition of Teixeira moved Swisher, at least briefly, to the bench.  As others and I have touted, Swish will produce and deserves 400+ at-bats, in fact filling in at first tonight for Teixeira, who has a sore wrist, and sparing Sabathia two throwing errors.  He’s been the MVP of the first week.

Jorge has been no slouch, either, going 2-5 with two RBI doubles, driving in 3 in all and batting .313 thus far with 6 RBIs.  Nady is showing signs of life, going 2-4 to raise his average to .294.  Jeter was 1-4 with his second stolen base, a run, and a walk, batting .273.  JD was 1-4 with 2 runs and a walk, batting .263.  Matsui broke out with a double and a walk, though he’s still not quite right at the plate.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sit on getaway day tomorrow.  Cano and Ransom were each 0-4, and Brett the Jet 0-3 with a walk and a GIDP.  The bottom of the order needs to be better.  It’s not been horrible, but it needs to be better than the first five games.  In them, the starters have gone 2-10, 2-11, 3-11, 2-11, and 2-11: 11-54 (.204).  The team also stranded 8 tonight.

But conversely, the Yankees have allowed the Royals to only hit 11-64 (.172) through two games.  Good starting pitching has provided a buffer zone for the Yankees to cover for an unproductive bottom third, and a slow-starting Matsui.  They’ve ensured that Jorge and Swish driving in 15 of the team’s 31 runs has not been a troublesome ratio by locking down the opposition.  Nor is 6-2 runs/game a bad ratio, anyway, especially when hitting just 12-51 (.235) with RISP through five games.  In essence, it’s too early to discern many clear patterns through five games.  But the Yanks have won three of five and scored over six runs a game (largely on the strength of scoring over 1/3 of their total runs in an 11-2 blowout) while not hitting as a team, not getting solid contributions from the bottom third, not hitting well with RISP, not getting much from Matsui in clean-up, and losing their first two games after poor starts from two aces.  Oh yeah, and without A-Rod. They’ve turned things around quite well, with pitching being reason number one, and Swisher, Cano, and Jorge’s collective exploits number 2.

Before I forget, I can’t say I’ve minded the late-inning defensive replacement move with Pena going in for Jeter.  To what degree that will occur, if at all, in tight games very much remains an open question.  But Pena is a first-class glove, and getting him some playing time especially with nice leads is a good move on Girardi’s part.  Plus, with the way Ransom is playing, Pena might well earn his first start tomorrow.  Speaking of which, Girardi has rebounded nicely from a couple bad decisions such as leaving in CC and Wang past their expiration dates in the first and second games of the year, respectively.  On the whole, he’s continued to manage the bullpen adroitly, has wisely played Swish while also rotating players in LF and DH, and has on the whole seemed more relaxed.  It would be another beneficial byproduct should the Yanks strong together some wins if winning could buy Girardi a nice comfort zone in which to operate, make sound decisions, have various personnel options, and occasionally be creative.  In all, through a few games, Girardi has done fine and earned some appreciation.  It’s early, granted, but still worth noting.

Joba takes the bump tomorrow in his first start of the season against Gil Meche (0-0, 1.29 ERA), as the Yankees look to sweep. and lock down the first Crazy Stein of 2009.  Hmmm. I’d like 2009 to be the Year of the Crazy Stein, actually.

Thanks to everyone for stopping by a rousing HDLR.  Happy Easter.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 10:45 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I knew you’d throw in a Crazy Stein reference. LOL

    I’m glad you mentioned the Yanks with RISP because aside from a couple guys, it has been abysmal. I’m also glad you mentioned Cody Ransom because he’s making me long for Alex’s return more than I was before the season started. I’m sure he’s a great guy and to be 33 and getting your chance to play in the big leagues is inspiring, he can’t hit and he can’t field. Even though Gardner is not much better at the plate, at least his defensive skills are not disputable.

    I echo your sentiments about 2009 being the Year of the Crazy Stein. Let’s ride the Crazy Stein all the way to the Canyon of Heroes.

  2. Liking the big bold Oh Yeah there, lol.
    Swish will obviously get the start again tomorrow.. It’d be criminal to take his hot bat out of the lineup.. 1st week MVP indeed.
    Though Swish steals all the headlines, Jorge has been solid and though he didn’t fare well today, Cano has done great this week.
    I’m looking forward to more wins like these.
    I can’t wait to see Joba’s first start.
    I double echo the Crazy Stein prediction. Love it =)

  3. Beth, your Crazy Stein will be forever memorialized. I’d like to see a lot more Crazy Steins this year than they managed last year. I like Ransom and he’s a heck of an athlete, but he seemed a lot more relaxed before the lights were turned on this season, so to speak, than when Opening Day came. I’ve been waiting for him to have a 2-4 day, get on base, score a run, have one of the two foul homers he belted go fair instead. He hasn’t gotten a break so far, but hasn’t made many for himself, either.

    V, that “Oh Yeah” in big, capital letters was a fair approximation of what I said when it happened. I admit to generating some volume when something good happens–usually not when something bad does. I’ll unfortunately have to catch up on Joba’s start later tonight.

    Let’s get the Crazy Stein, Yanks.

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