James Shields must have liked what he saw when handed the Yankee lineup card this evening. No Arod. No Granderson. Two guys with slugging percentages over .416. A couple of tough outs for sure, but after spending his whole career in the AL East, this had to be the weakest Yankee lineup he ever faced. He had come up a loser in the last game before the All-Star break falling one to nothing in an exquisite pitcher’s duel with CC Sabathia. Tonight he turned the tables and hung the tough loss on Sabathia 2-1.
CC had to keep a clean sheet or close to it to give the weakened Yankees a chance, but Evan Longoria hammered a hanger into the left field seats in the bottom of the first. It was a slow breaking ball high in the hitting zone and might well have been screaming “hit me” as it tumbled into Longoria swing arc. I don’t know, I can’t hear my TV over the AC.
CC made a go of it over at Grover Cleveland, keeping the game in reach. But with two outs and nobody on in the fifth, he got sloppy and walked the eighth hitter Elliot Johnson. The walk looked harmless enough, but with two strikes on the ninth hitter, he tried to put him down with a slider low and away. It stayed up and in the middle and Sam Fuld smoked it into the right-field corner for a run-scoring triple.
Two bad breaking balls, two runs on the board.
The score seemed to go from 1-0 to 20-0 with that run as the Yankees couldn’t even get a man to second base from the second through the seventh. Shields put some guys on base, but squashed any hopes with his off speed stuff. A well-disguised change-up was my number one fear as a hitter, and, anecdotally anyway, the pitch I feel that gives the Yanks the most problems.
In the eighth, Derek Jeter and Robinson Canó rapped doubles to pull one of the runs back. All of a sudden those two little runs CC allowed didn’t seem so formidable. Canó’s double chased Shields and Swisher got to face Brandon Gomes with the game on the line.
One of my best coaches advised me to be ready to hit the first pitch from any relief pitcher because he’s expecting you to take and might groove a heater. That must be especially true with a patient hitter like Nick Swisher. But Gomes out-guessed the guesser and threw an 82 MPH change-up on the first pitch. Swisher thought he was all over it, but after contact he knew he was out in front. Nurtz.
Kyle Farnsworth struck out three in the ninth, though I didn’t give up hope until Granderson was retired (he pinch hit in the seventh). I thought he could handle Farnsworth’s heat, but he just fouled it back. Professor Farns eventually got him to chase a slider in the dirt.
CC Sabathia was the loser, throwing a complete game and striking out eight. He was a notch below his recent ridiculousness walking three unintentionally, but good enough to win on most nights. Hate to lose with him on the mound, but with this powerless lineup, he needed to better than he was.
The Yankees are now two full games back of Boston in the AL East and would be wise to fatten up on the upcoming home stand versus Oakland, Seattle and Baltimore. It would be nice to make up a game or two, though with the way the Sox have been going, they might have to win all ten to make up any ground.