Well, it sure appears that New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia is done with that struggling nonsense. Sabathia pitched his second straight dominant start, going eight strong innings against the Minnesota Twins and striking out 10 batters while allowing only two runs. The Twins briefly held a 1-0 lead after they scratched out a run in the second inning on a line drive hit toright by Ryan Doumit, a slow ground ball to move him to second, and a run-scoring single from Matt Carson. However, the game fell apart for them in the top of the third inning.
Samuel Deduno started the game for Twins, but he abruptly departed the game with two outs in the second due to eye irritation. Brian Duensing relieved him, much to the delight of Yankee hitters. Duensing is the same southpaw they crushed in two ALDS starts from 2009 and 2010 (eight innings, 14 hits, 10 earned runs). With one out in the third, CD ( Chris Dickerson ) took advantage of a rare start by starting a rally with a single up the middle. Ichiro Suzuki lined Duensing's next pitch to center as well, a hit that gave him 18 hits in his previous 36 at bats. Derek Jeter walked to load the bases, and Robinson Cano followed with a two-run double over Ben Revere's head in right field. The Yankees took a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish, and Cano had a much-needed hit with runners in scoring position. He was hitting .239/.374/.373 in that field entering today, and an even more disappointing .143/.217/.429 with the bases loaded (his two grand slams the only saving grace).
After Cano's double, Swisher drove in Jeter with a line drive single to right that was hit so hard that Cano had to stay at third base. Fortunately, the smash did not cost the Yankees as CG (Curtis Granderson) became the sixth consecutive hitter to reach base with a two-run triple to right field. Granderson's fourth three-bagger of the season made the score 5-1, and he crossed home plate with the sixth run when Duensing threw one wild with Eric Chavez at the plate. Two batters later, Duensing was gone, as was much hope for the Twins to come back.
Perhaps if another Yankee starter was on the mound, Minnesota might have had more of a chance, but CC was in vintage form. He retired nine Twins in a row from the second through the fifth, striking out five in this streak. He struck out the side, which included top hitter Joe Mauer, on just 10 pitches in the fourth. Sabathia gave the majority of the bullpen a much-needed day off, even returning to the game in the eighth after over 100 pitches already. CC was masterful, mixing hitters up with 55 fastballs, 32 sliders, and 21 sinkers among his 118 pitches on the game. The Twins scored once against him in the seventh inning, but by then the score was 8-2, thanks to a long two-run home run in the sixth inning by Dickerson against reliever Anthony Swarzak. Dickerson was one of four Yankees with a multi-hit day, joining Ichiro, Cano, and Raul Ibanez. It would be nice to see him featured in at least more games than Andruw Jones since he's hot right now. Not one of the Yankees' 11 hits came from Jeter though, and his 19-game hitting streak ended.
Just for fun, CE (Cody Eppley) closed the game out with a scoreless ninth. David Aardsma was unavailable, as he apparently fell into the limitless void with Ozzie Smith at the Springfield Mystery Spot.
With a road series win against the Twins under their belt, the Yankees now go to Canada for four games against the last-place Toronto Blue Jays. Their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to four, and with a two-game lead in the division over the Baltimore Orioles, the magic number for the American League East division title has fallen to six. If the Jays can do their last winning for a few days tonight against Baltimore, the Yankees will inch even closer to the crown.
More good news came from both Brett Gardner's first appearance in a game since April 17th (a ninth inning cameo in left field), and the report that injured first baseman Mark Teixeira went through some drills today with "a little more intensity" and manager Joe Girardi expects him to play simulated games soon. If Tex can come back for that last series against the Boston Red Sox on October 1-3, it would be a great opportunity to tune up the MT25 for the playoffs.
Flying Falcor of the Day goes to CC Sabathia (8 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, .075 WPA).
Kangaroo Kick of the Day goes to Eric Chavez (0-2, 2 BB, .016 WPA). A couple batters had worse days in the box score than Chavez, but he had an embarrassing mental lapse in the fifth inning, when he forgot how many outs there were. He stepped on third with runners on first and second with one out, missing a chance at an inning-ending double play. Fortunately, the blunder did not cost the Yankees, but if Denard Span came up with a big hit there, it could have been bad. A veteran should be aware of how many outs there are at all times.