Boy, today was a much-needed win for the Yankees. In fact, they needed it so much they got starting pitcher CC Sabathia to shut-out the Tigers in today’s 7-0 ballgame. Throwing 114 pitches and striking out 4 batters, Sabathia seemed back on track after his Game 1 loss, while Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander struggled to keep the lower-end of the Yankees roster at bay. Fun game note for Yankee fans: Sabathia completely silenced the bats of Detroit sluggers Fielder and Cabrera, who did so much damage in the previous two games to the pitching staff.
Speaking of which, it was a Francisco Cervelli RBI double in the 2nd inning to put the Yankees on the board early. That was followed up by a Jayson Nix 2-run home run. (That’s right, I said Nix; don’t worry, it surprised me too.) Verlander managed to keep runners from scoring through his next 4 innings, but the Yankees dented the board again in the final two innings to keep the ball rolling. In the 8th inning, a Hafner single and Wells ground-rule double set the stage for an Ichiro Suzuki sacrifice fly to score Hafner’s pinch runner Nunez (still on the mend). Wells, now at 3rd, scores easily on Cervelli’s single. In the 9th inning, with Nix and Gardner at 1st and 2nd on singles, Youkilis’ line drive to left field easily scores both runners on his single. In total, the Yankees notched 13 hits off the Tigers’ pitching staff.
I just can’t say this enough: when the Yankees actually pull together and play like themselves, they win ball games. They did this on Wednesday against Boston under Andy Pettitte, and they did this again today. And I absolutely loved that we can depend on the bottom half of the line-up (usually known as the weaker half) to bring in the runs and slug it out of the park from time to time.
I also want to point out that Francisco Cervelli is one of the stand-out players on the team this year, beginning in Spring Training and now carrying on into the regular season. Not only in his catching defense, but his offense is just really reaching new levels, not seen since he first came up. It’s rather rewarding to see a player who took the time and effort to improve what needed to be improved and then proceed to push himself further into a mature, well-rounded player. He is really turning into a good example, and not just for those looking to work their way up to the Bronx, but also for those on the team now struggling to find their groove again.
And perhaps, that’s the real lesson they all must learn at some point. Slumps and successes come and go; both are inevitable parts of life and baseball. But it’s what you do when you’re deep in a slump that builds the character you have to depend on when you’re riding the success wave. Character (via determination) is what keeps you going when you’re just playing horribly and making every effort to fix whatever’s wrong, and it is character (via humility and integrity) that keeps you grounded when everything’s going right and everyone loves you. And that’s what really makes a good ball player a great ball player — character. And boy, do we have that in spades in pinstripes!