On the mound tonight we had CC Sabathia going against Bartolo Colon - a no-longer-quite-so-fat pitcher facing off against a pitcher who was, is and always shall be fat. Who would come out on top? To paraphrase the great Wesley Snipes: always bet on fat.
Bartolo Colon came into this game on quite a hot streak - 4-0 with a 0.90 ERA in his past four starts. The Yankees had him on the ropes right out of the chute thanks to a Brett Gardner single and a Robinson Cano walk. Mark Teixeira advanced the runners to second and third with a fly ball to deep center; it was a "productive" out, though I'm putting that word in quotes because the out was only productive based on the assumption that the hitters behind Tex - the so-called middle of the Yankees lineup - don't more-closely resemble the middle of a turd sandwich. Travis Hafner did manage to work a tough walk, but Kevin Youkilis popped to the first baseman in foul territory and Lyle Overbay popped to the left fielder in foul territory. Colon would settle down after that, pacing the A's with six shutout innings. The guy who couldn't beat out Freddy Garcia for an ALDS start two years ago just keeps plugging along, still pleasantly plump and throwing as hard as ever. In fact, Colon was throwing significantly harder than Sabathia, hitting 94 on occasion. Remember, he is 40 years old.
The Yankees drew four walks against Colon, who had only walked six hitters in 77.1 IP leading up to this game. Now there's a fact that seems like it should have played a role in the outcome of this game...it sure as hell didn't.
Coco Crisp led off the bottom of the first with a home run off CC., making him the second consecutive A's leadoff hitter to kick off a Sabathia start with a dinger - Adam Rosales also pulled off that trick in a 2-0 Yankees loss on May 3. A word of advice, CC: next time you start against Oakland, just hit the leadoff guy in the back.
CC became the first victim of the Lyle Overbay Right Field Experiment in the bottom of the second - with two outs and Josh Reddick on first, catcher Derek Norris popped a ball into No Man's Land down the right field line. The ball bounced in front of Overbay and Reddick raced home for the second run of the game. It was a ball Ichiro probably catches, but the Yankees simply needed Overbay and his .294 OBP in the lineup. Just for shits and giggles, Jayson Nix hit a fly ball to the exact same spot with one on and two out in the fourth inning; genuine right fielder Josh Reddick tracked it down with ease. Way to troll, A's!
Norris must have felt embarrassed by his rinky-dink RBI in the second, so next time up he hit a three-run bomb off Sabathia to break the game open in the fourth. CC would also allow a run in the sixth to finish off his night with the unsightly line of 6 IP, 6 ER, 8 H (2 XBH). He was sitting at 90 MPH with the fastball and not getting many swings and misses. Hopefully this is just a byproduct of his lifelong slump at the Oakland Colosseum (5.02 ERA in 13 career starts coming into tonight).
Hey, the U.S. Men's National team is beating Panama in World Cup qualifying! U-S-A! U-S-A! Stop it, Joe. Focus on the rest of the game...professionalism, dammit!
The Yankees scored their two runs in the top of the eighth, leading off the inning with three straight singles from Gardner, Cano, and Teixeira. This time, the meat of the Yankees order helped out the cause by only making two outs (line out to right by Hafner, ground out to short by Youkilis). That's progress, people! Vernon Wells even came through with a two-out, pinch-hit RBI single off of struggling Oakland reliever Jerry Blevins (though the fact that the A's kept the lefty Blevins in to face the right handed Youk and Wells, even after he had given up three straight singles and a hard line out, speaks to how low those two have fallen in the eyes of opposing managers).
The Yankees helped ease the ol' Pythagorean with two more runs in the ninth, courtesy of a two-out, two-run single by Teixeira. Hafner actually came to the plate representing the tying run; he gave the ball a ride, but Seth Smith made a nice running catch up against the wall in left. Close, but no donut, Haf.
So the Yankees are now 3-2 on this West Coast trip; I'll take that any day of the week. Tomorrow Phil Hughes will look to replicate the eight-inning, no-run masterpiece he threw against the A's last month. Hopefully he's heftier than the guy starting for Oakland. Remember, people: always bet on fat.