It was mentioned somewhere I read yesterday that the Yankees were very much looking forward to Saturday’s game due to the schedule pitcher. CC Sabathia has always done really well against the Royals, perhaps going back to his division rivalry days as an Indian a decade ago. But even in pinstripes, Sabathia seems to be able to stymie any attempt at a big offense by the Kansas City team.
And after whatever nightmare was last night, the Yankees were clinging to whatever hope they could. But prior to this weekend’s series, there was an overlying threat of some severe storms working their way into the area. I have some friends in Kansas City who are (I know, gasp!) Royals fans (or rather have been recently due to their AL Championship status last year), who were talking about both the game and the weather this weekend — two topics that are linked due to the outdoor, weather-susceptible atmosphere that is your standard baseball stadium.
So while the storm system (that, yes, carried a high potential for heavy rain and pesky tornadoes because it’s the Midwest) crept its way into the area, the Yankees sent Sabathia to the mound to start the game against the Royals. Sabathia proved that all that was suggested about his “superpower” against the Royals continues its accuracy. In his 7 sharp innings, Sabathia threw 87 pitches, gave up 6 hits, no walks, and 1 run, striking out 5 batters. The lone run of the Royals came in the 3rd inning, Sabathia’s weakest inning — 3 consecutive singles loaded the bases before a run scored on a sacrifice fly. But then Sabathia got back-to-back strike outs to strand the runners and get himself out of trouble. It was nice watching Sabathia find that old “CC Magic”.
To finish off the flair that was a great start in CC-World, the Yankees sent in their Dynamic Duo — Betances in the 8th, Miller in the 9th, each for 12 pitches with their pure pitching consistency.
I should also mention that the rain came along in the 5th inning and just poured for a good majority of the rest of the game. While the fans headed up to the concourse and inside the lounges for cover, the game kept playing, those players just plugging on through, dealing with whatever might come their way. Well, the Kauffman faithful donned their ponchos and other rain gear to stick it out with their boys, just in case their boys felt like playing better offense. But they didn’t, so that worked out in the Yankees’ favor. (And I’m really okay with that!)
Just before it started really raining, the Yankees had their own productive 3rd inning. The Royals starter struggled with location on his last outing (not against the Yankees), and tonight those struggles continues. Like in that 3rd inning, he walked Ellsbury, Rodriguez, and Teixeira before getting a sacrifice fly from Carlos Beltran that scored Ellsbury. The Royals starter managed to get out of the inning, but his struggles continued through his outing, driving up his pitch count.
In the 5th inning, after 2 quick outs, with Teixeira and Beltran on base with singles, Chase Headley hit a giant 3-run home run into the Royals’ bullpen. I should note this was in the heart of the driving rain. Yes, with the rain coming in and weighing down the pressure, Headley’s 394 foot homer still made it out of the park; imagine how far that ball might have gone without the precipitation.
That inning (but mainly that home run and his pitch count of 113 pitches) forced the starter out of the game and onto their long-term reliever, who did a better job at keeping the Yankees offense from doing further damage. That is for the first 3 of his innings. A 3-run lead just wasn’t enough, at least not after last night. The Yankees just wanted a bit of a twist in their win. So in the 9th inning, Alex Rodriguez hit his 10th home run of the season, a solo shot to right-center field.
Final score: 5-1 Yankees. (Yes, a much better night all around. Well, except for that pesky rainstorm.)
Roster moves: (just in the pitching category tonight) Jose Ramirez was optioned to AAA Scranton; for a fresh arm, Bryan Mitchell was called up; and Jared Burton was released from minor league contract.