Starting pitcher (and former Indian) CC Sabathia threw all 116 pitches needed for the Yankees to win and sweep the Cleveland Indians today. He started really strong, perhaps his strongest all season so far, getting 14 straight batters out (until a single in the 5th inning broke that streak). In the next inning, he faltered a bit, allowing 3 straight singles (and one run) and a sacrifice groundout to score the 2nd run for the Indians before Sabathia closed out the inning. A 2-out 2-run homer by an Indians batter in the 7th inning was probably his biggest flaw in today’s otherwise stellar performance, which put the Indians solidly on the board with 4 runs. But it wasn’t enough to do much of anything to counteract the early Yankee attack.
A fielding error in the 1st inning allowed Robinson Cano to slide into 2nd safely — though I think we can all agree that splits are best used by dancers, not baseball players. The other former Indian on the team, Travis Hafner, then solidly planted a long ball into the 2nd deck in right field for a quick 2-0 lead in the 1st inning. In the 2nd inning, Overbay singles, Nix doubles, Chris Stewart singles and scores Overbay, and it was Brett Gardner today that took his turn to hit a 3-run homer into right field. (Yes, Brett Gardner; I was shocked too.) And the Yankees were quickly up 6-0 in the 2nd inning.
Even when Cleveland attacked late in the game, they still fell short of the 6-4 final score, and much of that was due to Sabathia. He struck out 9 batters, walked only 1, allowed 7 hits, and those 4 pesky runs in the 6th and 7th innings. Cleveland went through 5 pitchers in an attempt to keep the Yankees at bay, which they did after the first two innings and got out of several loaded bases scenarios. But to finish what you start is always rather refreshing for a pitcher, and he was able to save the bullpen from a day’s work for another day facing another team, which is good because they Yankees are making a cross-country flight tonight to play down the West Coast.
And I do want to continue to acknowledge Jayson Nix’s contribution to the team, like with a 6-6-3 double play in the 7th inning. He is a great example of what is happening on the team as a whole. It’s the little things like that play and just the willingness to be wherever you’re asked to play that continue to drive this team forward. He is regularly filling in at shortstop with the furthered absence of both Jeter and Nunez (who is now dealing with a recent set-back in his recovery), and honestly, Nix is really exceeding all expectations of one of the most demanding positions on the field. Again it’s guys like Nix that are making this team something special, something feared almost, in the league when technically they were “supposed to be” where the Blue Jays are right now — below .500 for the average (Toronto’s is currently .414) and 11.5 games behind 1st place Boston (well, everyone thought 1st place would be the Blue Jays, but that’s another story). But we’re not, and we have to give credit to the “never say die” guys like Jayson Nix.