The Yankees took two days to calm the waters, but the wait was worth it as six pitchers combined to shut out the Tampa Bay Rays last night by a score of 5-0, allowing only five hits. The story, though, belongs to Mr. Sabathia.
The Yankees, even at this early stage of the season, knew it was important to plug a small hole in the dike before it grew any larger. And CC Sabathia, all 325 pounds of him, knew it was his job to lead the way by picking up his teammate, Masahiro Tanaka, from his horrendous start on Sunday.
And for those of us who have wondered what we’d look like on the mound at Yankee Stadium wearing Pinstripes, Sabathia is the personification of that image.
When the center-field camera pans in for that overused view of a pitch, everything seems to be blocked out by CC’s backside. Tugging regularly at a uniform that is forever challenged to meet the contours of his massive body, CC is anything but eye candy as a pitcher these days.
Using a repertoire of fastballs that aren’t fast anymore and sliders that don’t slide as much anymore, each pitch is designed to be away, then more away, and finally, even further away from the hitter.
CC Sabathia has learned how to pitch.
Video Courtesy of the YES Netwrok
Back in the day when he was with the Indians and then later with the Milwaukee Brewers, pitching a baseball instead of throwing a baseball was an odd mix of words for Sabathia. And why should he have cared about pitching when he could blow hitters away with 97 mph fastballs and that devastating slider that batters would forever futilely chase and swing at.
And even when he first came to the Yankees to make his debut with the team in 2009, leading the team to its first World Championship in nine years, he could still muster up the same assortment of fastball, faster fastball, and faster faster fastball.
CC was a bull back then, and he took the ball every fifth day without flinching. He was barely getting warmed up when reached 85 pitches, as he did last night. And 200 innings, the hallmark of a solid starter in the big leagues today? That was sissy stuff for Sabathia.
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He gave the Yankees only five innings last night before turning the game over to a bullpen that more than did its job as well. It wasn’t pretty, and all Sabathia managed to do was get hitters out in textbook style.
Hopefully, the two throwers on the Yankees starting staff, Michael Pineda and Luis Severino, were watching closely last night as Sabathia put on a show demonstrating the art of pitching in the major leagues.
Chances are they were watching closely because the Yankees coaches were watching each of them see if they were watching. And over the next two nights, we’ll see what they learned.
Pineda gets the start tonight against Alex Cobb. With the bullpen being taxed last night, Pineda needs to give his team a minimum of six or, preferably seven innings. Often, this is a challenge for Pineda because he has a tendency to waste some pitches he throws with no purpose in mind.
On Tuesday evening against the Rays, CC Sabathia looks to get the Yankees into the win column. It certainly sounds like he's ready to do just that.
Gary Sanchez, Pineda’s catcher, will need to challenge himself as well by putting aside the horrific 0-10 start he’s off to at the plate to keep Pineda focused.
CC showed how to get it done last night by using grit and determination instead of a 95 mph fastball. It’s Pineda’s turn now to follow suit by giving the Yankees a quality, if not pretty, start.