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A happy day in the Yankee Universe

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Nothing but good feelings around the Yankee Universe today following Friday's 4-1 ALCS opening victory over Anaheim. So, let's look around the Inter-Google and sample what is being written as we wait for tonight's second game.

Old baseball men love to talk about the subtle difference between throwing and pitching. Throwers, you know, they throw. Pitchers, on the other hand, pitch. See the difference? There's throwing and there's pitching. Yes, you're right, it can be a thoroughly baffling thing to understand.

But Friday night at Yankee Stadium, for once, I could see it. Anyone could see it. The thrower turned pitcher was CC Sabathia. He was ridiculously good. Sure, Sabathia has been good for a long time. But this was different.

When Sabathia came up to the big leagues, he was 20 years old, left-handed, and a thrower. Of course, that's not a terrible thing when you can throw really hard. He threw plenty good. He went 17-5 his rookie season and certainly would have won the Rookie of the Year award had it not been for a phenomenon named Ichiro Suzuki.

He was pretty darned good throwing the ball the next few years too. He won the Cy Young Award in 2007. He was pretty much unbeatable in the National League last year. He signed with the Yankees for a billion-jillion dollars during the off-season. He led the American League in victories (19) and he threw 230 innings -- he has thrown more innings the last five years than any pitcher in baseball.

But ... he also had his down moments. His postseason ERA coming into this season was 7.92. True, it was only four starts ... but hey, four postseason starts is more than most pitchers get. The sense from many inside baseball -- and observers on the outside too -- was that there might be something a bit unsturdy about Sabathia.

Thing is, all along the way he was making that subtle transition from thrower to pitcher, from talent to artist, from workhorse to dominant. Friday night, as he shut down the Angels, you could see that the transformation was complete. The Yankees won the game 4-1, and the background music was the cold weather and the howling wind and the Angels self-destruction on defense. But Sabathia was the show. It wasn't just that he pitched well. He did that -- 8 innings, four hits, one run, one walk, seven strikeouts. As Joe Girardi would say: "To pitch eight innings against this club and only give up one run, that's quite a performance."

More, he controlled the game with fastballs and sinkers and sliders and change-ups, all around the plate, all precisely where he wanted to throw them.

My take: Somebody needs to thank Dave Eiland for getting Sabathia to add that tailing fastball, sinker or whatever you want to call it. That pitch is absolutely unhittable.

  • About that 8th inning. Manager Joe Girardi, of course, could be second-guessed for letting Sabathia pitch the 8th inning last night, especially if he is going to bring him back on three days rest. That decision was discussed in a few places this morning, including by River Avenue Blues.

    My take: Watching the game, Tim McCarver and Joe Buck were split on the move. I was also torn. I can't blame Girardi, though. In Game 1 you don't worry about Game 4. You do what you think is best to win that night, especially in the playoffs. Besides, now Girardi has all of his weapons saved for tonight. And you know A.J. Burnett is not giving you 8 innings.
  • The Angels had a horrible night in the field, maybe the worst I have ever seen a Mike Scioscia team have. You have to love Torii Hunter, though. He didn't make any excuses at all.

    "You looked at both teams, they were cold," Hunter said. "(Derek) Jeter blowing his hands. (Mark) Teixeira with his mask on. That's not an excuse. You can't go out there and say it's cold, that's why we lost. We got our ass whupped."