The Yankees looked to C.C. Sabathia to halt a losing streak and help remove the stench of another awful performance by AJ Burnett, but instead it was the bats that saved the day.
In each of the first three innings, the Yankees belted a two-run homerun off talented lefty John Danks, building a 6-1 cushion for their ace. Included in the barrage were the first major league homerun of Eduardo Nunez, who ended the night with three hits and four RBI (see list below), another round tripper by Nick Swisher against his former team as well as the first of two long balls by Marcus Thames.
The Yankees power explosion was not the focus of the first three innings, however, because Mark Teixeira left the game before his second at bat. After the game, it was revealed that Teixeira had bruised his thumb on Friday, and it was that injury that forced him from the game. Teixeira stated he had hoped to be able to play through the pain, but quickly determined he would not be able to help the team after experiencing discomfort in his first at bat. Teixeira is considered day-to-day, but for one night at least, the Yankees’ offense did not suffer without their slugging first baseman.
With a 6-1 lead, it looked easy sailing for the Yankees, but last night was open season on talented lefties. Not to be outdone by Danks, Sabathia also got in on the act of surrendering two-run bombs, yielding one in the third and fourth to narrow the score to 6-5. After being touched for the two blasts, however, Sabathia slammed the door on the White Sox, retiring 12 of the final 15 batters, including seven on strikeouts.
While Sabathia was restoring order, the Yankees were rebuilding the lead against reliever Tony Pena. In the top of the fifth, the Yankees immediately restored their five run advantage by plating four two-out runs, the first two scoring on a Posada double and the last two on Nunez’ second hit of the game. With Sabathia dealing and the Yankees bullpen impenetrable of late, the middle of the game seemed to be played as if it was formality. The late innings, however, would prove otherwise.
Sabathia departed after seven innings, turning the game over to the bullpen, but not before the Yankees extended their lead to 11-5 in the top of the inning. Entering the game, the Yankees bullpen had posted a sterling 1.80 ERA in August, but on this night they would struggle. Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan were both shaky in the eighth, but wiggled out of trouble after surrendering only two runs. Thames got one run back in the ninth when he went deep for the second time, but in the bottom of the inning, David Robertson could not retire a batter before leaving with two runs in and a man on first.
With the game no longer firmly in hand, Joe Girardi was forced to awaken his sleeping bear. In typical Sandman fashion, Mariano Rivera seemed to immediately put the White Sox rally to bed with a quick double play ball, but Chicago wasn’t quite ready to call it a night. After the twin killing, Rivera allowed a single and walk, which brought Mark Teahan to the plate as the tying run, but Chicago’s hope was only short lived. Rivera’s cutter handcuffed Teahan, who lined out softly to second base, giving Mo is 26th save and the Yankees a much needed win.
With the Rays winning, the victory enabled the Yankees to hold onto their share of first place. From a personal standpoint for Sabathia, the big lefty assumed the major league lead in wins with 18. Despite not pitching particularly well last night, Sabathia has shown a knack for “pitching to the score” in 2010, and yesterday might have been another example. Although such an ability is probably more on the mythical side, Sabathia does seem to lock things down when a lead is put in jeopardy. Admittedly, this perceived quality has very little place in a Cy Young debate, but from the standpoint of a team with a rotation in shambles, Sabathia’s ability to stay ahead of the opposition is just what the team has needed.
- Marcus Thames homered twice in a game for the ninth time in his career. His last two homer game was as a Tiger against the Brewers on June 19, 2009.
- Despite surrendering four runs in only two innings, the Yankees’ bullpen leads the major leagues with a 2.22 ERA in August.
- Eduardo Nunez’ four RBIs was the first time a Yankees rookie recorded at least as many in one game before his tenth starts since Shelley Duncan also knocked in four runs on July 22, 2007, the fourth game of his career.
Yankees Rookies with At Least RBIs in One Game Before Starting 10 Games, Since 1920