The script in yesterday’s 4-0 victory against the Orioles at Camden Yards in Baltimore was what the Yankees envisioned throughout Spring Training. A great pitching performance by their new “ace” CC Sabathia; a game-winning homrerun by Alex Rodriguez; and, a solid effort by the whole team in a crisp well-played game.
Of course, no one expected the Yankees would enter this game with a record of 13-15, with CC taking the mound with a 1-3 won-loss record, in Alex Rodriguez’s first game of the year, following all the drama of A-Rod’s spring training press conference in which he admitted using performance enhancing drugs during his Texas Ranger days; then, missed the first 28 games of the season because of a hip injury that required surgery, returning to the lineup the same week a new book about his on and off the field activities hit the bookstores.
Just another day in the Yankees Universe.
But, this win was just what the Yankees needed.
After the Yankees had lost five straight games, and basically looked like they were in a free fall, CC Sabathia threw a brilliant 4-0 complete game shutout, allowing only four hits [two each in the first and ninth innings], and one walk, while striking out eight, on 112 pitches, to earn his second win of the year, in certainly his best pitching performance so far in his short career with the New York Yankees.
The Yankees and CC got all the runs they would need in the top of the first inning when after Derek Jeter led off with a groundout, Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira drew back-to-back walks that were followed by a big three-run homer on the first pitch of the year to clean-up hitter Alex Rodriguez, giving the Yanks a very early 3-0 lead.
This was the first lead the Yankees have had in a week, covering 42 straight innings.
In the bottom of the first it looked like CC would give the runs right back as the first two Oriole batters, Brian Roberts and Adam Jones, singled.
But, on what could be considered one of the turning points in the game, rookie catcher, Francisco Cervelli, threw Jones out trying to steal second on a play that looked like Jones was safe, but he slid into the base with his back leg for the out. Roberts advanced to third on the play.
CC retired the next two hitters, Nick Markakis and Melvin Mora, though, ending the O’s early rally, keeping the score at 3-0.
From that point on in the game, Sabathia was unhittable, easily getting the next 23 of 24 Oriole batters out, including, 16 in-a-row, after walking Roberts in the third inning.
The Yankees scored their final run in the 7th on a RBI double by Damon that scored Cervelli who led off the inning with a walk.
Francisco Cervelli (1-for-2) had a big night, throwing out the runnner in the first; laying down a nice sac-bunt in the second; getting his first Major League hit, a single, in the 4th inning, in addition to his walk and run scored in the 7th.
And, oh yes, Cervelli called a beautiful game, catching CC Sabathia’s CG shutout, the first complete game Yankee shutout since July, 2006, which was pitched by Chien-Ming Wang.
CC took the mound in the bottom of the 9th with the 4-0 lead, and no one warming up in the Yankees bullpen.
It didn’t start out too well for Sabathia in the 9th as the first two batters, Ceasar Izturis and Brian Roberts hit back-to-back singles; but, Yankees Manager, Joe Girardi, did not panic and let CC continue to pitch [the ineffectiveness of the Yankees bullpen certainly made that decision very easy for Mr. Girardi].
CC did not disappoint, as he struck-out the next three batters, Jones, Markakis, and Mora, to end the game, and complete the 4-0 shutout, and make everything in the Yankees Universe, okay, at least, for this brief moment.
The game took only 2 hours, 32 minutes to play, and moved the Yankees record to 14-15, in third place, 4.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox (19-11, .633), and the Toronto Blue Jays (20-12, .625), in the AL East.
Hopefully, the New York Yankees repeat the above script many more times throughout the rest of the 2009 season, right into the playoffs and World Series this October.