Okay, CC Sabathia had a bad outing in his first start as a Yankee; the Yankees bullpen was totally ineffective; and, Mark Teixeira was almost booed out of Camden Yards.
There still are 161 games remaining this season, though; so, it’s not a time to panic, yet, after only one game, even though a 10-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles is not how the New York Yankees expected to begin their new journey — back to playing October Baseball in 2009.
Sabathia lasted only 4.1 innings, allowing six runs, on eight hits and five walks, while striking-out “none”. CC threw a total of 96 pitches and basically didn’t have command of most of them, as this was only the fifth time in his career 255 starts that he did not strike out any batters.
Based on Sabathia’s preformance at the beginning of last year with the Cleveland Indians, when he started the season with a 1-4 record and 7.88 ERA, this could be a pattern for CC until the weather gets a little warmer. In my view, though, more concern should be directed towards the reasons why CC Sabathia was using some kind of a heating pad in between innings during this game.
After the game, CC said he was using the heaing pad only to stay warm. But, it was kind of a strange placement of the pad, inside his jacket, covering his stomach, that should be of some concern to the Yankees and Yankee fans. Sabathia’s fastball was only clocked in the low 90’s, which certainly has to raise some questions as the end result was no strikeouts, five walks, and eight hits allowed in this game.
As is the case with most teams, the Yankees don’t usually talk too openly about player injuries. So, it will be worth watching if the heating pad was a precursor of something more serious that may prevent Sabathia from being is most effective on the mound in future starts.
Jonathan Albaladejo replaced Sabathia in the 5th inning, and pitched the most effective of the Yankee relievers in his 1 1/3 innings of work.
But, the Yankees were down 6-1 as the game entered the top of the 6th.
At this point the Bombers actually started to mount a comeback, led by a long lead-off homerun by Jorge Posada to straight away centerfield in the 6th; and, a two-run homer by Hideki Matsui in the top of the 7th, that cut the O’s lead to 6-5.
Posada and Matsui hitting the ball with power is very encouraging news for the Yankees as both are recovering from injuries that kept them out of the lineup for a good part of 2008. If the Yankees are going to be successful this season, it is important for both Posada and Matsui to have a huge year, driving in many runs in the middle of the batting order.
The Yankees put together another rally in the top of the 8th, and had a golden opportunity to tie or take the lead when they had runners on first and third with two outs and Mark Teixeira up at the plate.
Teixeira was booed mightly by the Baltimore crowd right from the beginning of the game because Tex signed with the Yanks instead of his hometown Orioles. And, up to this point in the game Teixeira had no hits in three plate appearances.
Tex would not be a hero this day, as he hit a very soft grounder up the midde that forced Johnny Damon at second base for the final out of the inning.
The poor debuts by CC and Tex are certainly the major story lines in this game; but, the real lead story of the Yankees 10-5 loss could be buried in the bullpen.
I think the Yankees should be more concerned about the ineffectiveness of their middle relievers, Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, and Damaso Marte, who in this game gave up a combined five hits, including a homerun, and three walks, in their total 2.1 innings of work, that led to the Orioles scoring four runs in the bottom of the 8th, increasing their lead to 10-5, putting the game out of reach for the Yanks.
Other than Mariano Rivera, who had a great year in 2008, the rest of the Yankees bullpen was a major problem last season.
Yes, it is only one game; but, the Yankees really need their middle relievers to basically be “perfect” in just about every appearance they make this year. It may sound like I’m asking a lot from the bullpen, but isn’t this part of what baseball has become in this era?
By imposing strick pitch-counts on the starters, which limits their innings pitched in each start, the middle relievers become very important to the success of any team. This most definitely applies to the New York Yankees, and why it is so important for the bullpen to pitch “perfectly” every time one of the relievers takes the mound.
For Mariano Rivera to close out Yankee victories this season, the middle relievers will have to build a solid “bridge” in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings, from the starters to the “Great Mariano”.
Will the middle relievers be a “weak link” or successful “bridge-builders” in 2009 for this Yankees team?
Well, in my view, Yankees success this season depends on “perfection” from the bullpen.
The Orioles 10-5 victory was closed out by George Sherrill who pitched a scoreless 9th inning, to preserve the win for the O’s starter Jeremy Guthrie.
Some highlights for the Yankees, in addition to the Posada and Matsui homeruns, included ..
Three hits by Derek Jeter (3-5); Johnny Damon (2-3) with a walk, one run, and one RBI; and, a pinch-hit double by Nick Swisher.
Rare Moment In The Game …
“Zero” strikeouts by Yankess starting pitcher, CC Sabathia.
This is only the fifth time in Sabathia’s 255 career starts that he did not strike out a batter in the game.
— Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”