New York Yankees starter and ace CC Sabathia has been on the disabled list twice this season and each time he has returned he has shown the reason why he is so important to this rotation. Last night against his former team, Sabathia tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball doing what aces do, ended a losing streak and provided the Yankees with a glimmer of hope that was fading in recent weeks.
While the Yankees record in August has not been poor they had lost a considerable portion of their American League East lead while Sabathia’s invaluable elbow was on the mend. It looked as though the time off did not cause any rust to form on Sabathia’s arm from the onset of the last night’s 3-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians, throwing a 1-2-3 inning on twelve pitches.
The Yankee offense didn’t take long to get their ace the lead either. Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher started off the game with back-to-back doubles giving the Bombers a 1-0 lead. The Yankees had the bases loaded in both the first and second innings but couldn’t come away with any more runs off Cleveland starter Corey Kluber. Among the base runners in the second was Jeter, who took a 92-mph fastball off the brim of his batting helmet. Jeter was visibly angry, but stayed in the game.
In the fourth, Sabathia made his only mistake of the game, a sinker that Asdrubal Cabrera deposited over the center field wall. Sabathia had just thrown behind Cabrera in what could have been retaliatory for Jeter’s HBP. Both benches were warned and nothing else transpired on that front for the remainder of the game.
Sabathia was given the lead on a Swisher two-run homer in the top of the seventh and cruised into the eighth inning. The big lefty allowed just four hits on the night, walked one and struck out nine batters.
David Robertson got the final two outs of the eighth, but Rafael Soriano made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth. He allowed singles to Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley to open the frame putting runners on first and third. He then threw a wild pitch putting the tying run in scoring position. He recorded a strikeout on Matt LaPorta and got Ezequiel Carrera to pop out to Jeter. He intentionally walked Casey Kotchman, loading the bases and then got Jack Hannahan to ground out to Mark Teixeira for the final out of the game.
With the win, the Yankees moved to 73-52 and pushed their lead over the Tampa Bay Rays to 3 1/2 games. The Indians lost their ninth straight game dropping to 54-71. Tonight, the Yankees hope to build on their win with Hiroki Kuroda on the mound. Kuroda (12-8, 2.96 ERA) has been excellent since the All-Star break and has done well to keep the Yankees afloat while Sabathia was on the DL. The Indians counter with Justin Masterson (9-11, 4.73 ERA) who was torched for seven runs in his last outing against the Oakland A’s.