In 1978, Ron Guidry went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA. It's widely regarded as the greatest year a Yankees pitcher ever had, a once-in-a-generation accomplishment.
A generation later, CC Sabathia is putting together a season that has evoked memories of Louisiana Lightning. That was more apparent than ever on Tuesday night, with the big left-hander taking a perfect game into the seventh inning in a 4-1 win over the woeful Mariners, who lost their club-record 17th-straight.
Sabathia is now 15-5 with a 2.56 ERA. He's won eight of his last nine starts.
Brendan Ryan broke up the bid with a clean single with one out in the seventh, but Mother Nature can take just as much credit for throwing a wrench in history. The game was halted by a 30-minute rain delay with one out in the sixth, especially painful because Sabathia was literally untouchable at that point. He struck out seven consecutive batters before the tarp was rolled out.
Sabathia wasn't quite as sharp after the delay, hanging a breaking ball that Ichiro swung through in the seventh, then falling behind Ryan 2-0 before grooving a fastball. He did recover, striking out the final two batters of the inning to set a career high with 14 Ks.
A second rain delay figured to end Sabathia's night after 84 pitches, but the left-hander made a surprising return to the mound. It turned out to be a bad decision. Sabathia walked three consecutive batters, ending his night on a sour note. David Robertson came on and limited the damage, striking out Ryan, getting a fielder's choice RBI groundout by Chone Figgins before freezing Ichiro (.266) with a fastball to end the threat.
My personal opinion: Hindsight is 20/20, but there was really no reason to bring Sabathia back into the game after the second rain delay, unless you were cognizant of the Yankees strikeout record (Guidry struck out 18 in a game in '78). The counter-argument is that the second rain delay was brief (just 14 minutes). That said, I'm sure a pitcher's mindset is completely different than when he's sitting on the bench during an extended half inning. Factoring in injury-risk, it just didn't make sense. End of rant.
Curtis Granderson's 28th homer in the third opened the scoring, an opposite-field shot that snuck over the left-field wall. Mark Teixeira capped the scoring with his 28th homer, which doubled as his 100th homer as a Yankee. Doug Fister was the hard-luck loser — he's now lost his last seven decisions despite a 3.33 ERA. That's just not fair.
Mariano Rivera closed it out with a scoreless ninth, keeping Seattle winless since July 5. The G.O.A.T. picked up his 26th save of the season and 585th overall.
The Red Sox blew out the Royals at Fenway, maintaining a two-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East. New York leads the LA Angels of Anaheim of Los Angeles of California by 6.5 games in the wild card standings.
- Ron Guidry was actually in the house tonight, according to Sweeny Murti.
- A couple of depressing shots of Yankee playoff hero and current Seattle hitting coach Chris Chambliss. Can't imagine how depressing it must be being around that team.
- Chone Figgins went 0-for-3 and is down to .180. 180!!! What possibly does the man have to do to get DFA'd? Kidnap somebody's daughter? Light the clubhouse on fire? Amazing to think that not long ago he was a certified Yankee Killer.
- Sad watching Ichiro waste away on such a bad team. Get the feeling he would be revitalized by moving to a contender. Hasn't been back to the playoffs since his rookie year.
- Granderson is just two homers shy of his career high. According to YES, it was the first of his 28 homers to go to left field.
- Eric Chavez returned to the lineup after missing 71 games. He went 1-for-3. It goes without saying that the former Gold Glover is a huge defensive upgrade at third over Eduardo Nuneeeeeeeeeeeeeez.
- "I'd love to see what Robbie hits if he only swings at strikes." -- Paul O'Neill after a classic Cano giveaway at-bat in the second.
- Courtesy of Mark Feinsand: "Sabathia's streak of seven straight strikeouts is over, one shy of the AL record. (Nolan Ryan 2X, Ron Davis, Roger Clemens and Blake Stein)"
- If home-plate umpire Bob Davidson doesn't give Robertson a very-generous 3-1 strike call in the eighth against Ryan, it's a two-run game with nobody out and the bases loaded. The Mariners are awful, and they probably would've found a way to blow it anyway, but the Yankees caught a break, especially when Ryan chased ball four to strikeout.
Dan Hanzus is a regular contributor to Pinstripe Alley. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @danhanzus.