Sabathia Ices Red Sox Bats, Yanks Take Opener 4-1

CC Sabathia pitched a gem, and the New York Yankees got support from reinforcements Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis, and the Red Sox dropped game one of the three game set at Yankee Stadium, 4-1. In contrast to Sabathia’s performance was Sox ace Jon Lester, who struggled with command and appeared a bit rattled when he didn’t get close pitches called strikes.

Talking about the return of teammates Teixeira and Youkilis, Sabathia said, “Any time you get two guys like that back to your team, it’s going to add something to our lineup.”

The Yankees had Teixeira playing his first game of the season after injuring his wrist on March 5, and he walked in his first at-bat of 2013.  After a Vernon Wells double, Jayson Nix laced a single to left to score Teixeira, as Wells moved up to third.  Two batters later, Ichiro Suzuki lined a single to left to score Wells, and the Yankees took a 2-0 lead that proved to be the game-winner. Lester was fortunate to get catcher Chris Stewart to ground to short as Stephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia worked the double play.

Sabathia was simply too dominant to get to in this one, as he would finish the night with 7 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and striking out 10 without a walk. In no other inning did he exhibit his excellence better than in the fifth, as he set down Drew, David Ross and Jackie Bradley Jr. in successive strikeouts. In a complete 180 from his stellar at-bat in the season opener – in which he turned an 0-2 count into a walk to ignite Boston –  Bradley Jr. got ahead 3-0 before the Yankees hefty lefty blew him away on three pitches, with Bradley Jr. flailing at strike three as the Yankees fans went wild.

CC Sabathia turned in his most dominant effort of 2013, as Yanks pull within a game of Boston.

CC Sabathia turned in his most dominant effort of 2013, as Yanks pull within a game of Boston.

The Yankees grabbed another run in the fifth when old friend Kevin Youkilis, playing his first game since April 20th (back), laced a single to left the went under the glove of a diving Jose Iglesias to score Ichiro. New York manager Joe Girardi was ejected earlier in the frame when Ichiro’s grounder went as a fielder’s choice as Stewart was thrown out a second base.  At first, it looked like the throw from Iglesias pulled Drew off the second base bag, but replays showed his foot just barely maintaining contact with the base before Stewart reached. It was of little consolation to Lester, however, as he was on the wrong end of a 3-0 game at the end of the inning.

The Red Sox got their only run in the seventh when Pedroia and Mike Napoli each doubled off of Sabathia to give Boston some life at 3-1.  CC, however, would snap out of it and strike out Drew and get Ross to ground out to end the threat and any hope of a Red Sox comeback. The strikeout to Drew was Sabathia’s 10th of the game. After retiring the first batter of the eighth, Sabathia was lifted for reliever David Robertson who finished off the inning.

“Any time he was in a fastball count, he’d go to his breaking ball or his changeup to keep us off stride,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of CC’s dominant outing.

The Yanks had plated one more in the seventh on a Brett Gardner single to bring in Ichiro, and the score was 4-1 as “Enter Sandman” played in the ninth to signal the arrival of the immortal Mariano Rivera. Rivera was actually coming off of a blown save on Tuesday against the Mets – the first time in his illustrious career he blew a save without recording a single out. Rivera almost blew his second straight game, as the Red Sox got one out singles by Pedroia and David Ortiz to bring the tying run to the plate in Napoli.  Napoli was overmatched and struck out swinging on three pitches, and Rivera got Stephen Drew to ground out, Rivera fittingly fielding the final play.

The Yankees picked up a game on the Sox and sit just a game back in the very crowded AL East; victories by the Rays and Orioles brought all four teams within two games of the division lead. Felix Doubront will look to continue his recent transformation (three straight outings allowing just two earned runs) and maintain Boston’s slim lead when he takes the hill in game two Saturday Night. He will be opposed by Phil Hughes who, like Doubront, has been trying to put behind him a terrible start to the season.

Inside the Game

-Jon Lester, after a 6-0 start, has had three straight outings allowing four or more runs.  He has lost his last two decisions, and has seen his ERA rise from 2.72 to 3.53.

-Dustin Pedroia was the lone bright spot for Boston’s offense, going 3-4 with two doubles. Even though Pedroia has just three home runs, his OPS is almost as high as rival Robinson Cano who leads second baseman with 14 Hr (.872 OPS for Pedroia to Cano’s .880)

-The Red Sox were without Jacoby Ellsbury a night after his record-breaking 5 SB game. He felt some discomfort with his groin and is listed as day-to-day.

-CC Sabathia won his first decision since April 27th.

Jay Coorey – Senior MLB Contributor – Title Town Sports

 

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