If you like to see premium pitching, the first four innings were a sight to see. Both CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez put on a clinic, locating pitches and keeping their mistakes well out of the zone. CC was elevating his fastball and using his two-seamer as a front door pitch against righties. He also hit 92 and 93 on the radar gun pretty frequently, another encouraging sign.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. In the fifth, Jesus Montero and Chris Taylor hit back-to-back singles. Mike Zunino sacrificed them over to second and third, allowing Austin Jackson to single Montero in. But as Pinstripe Alley's smartest and best-looking writer recently noted, CC has done very well against lefties this year. He continued his success against left-handers by sitting the dangerous Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano down on consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Brett Gardner led off with a walk, which was followed by a strikeout of Alex Rodriguez. Mark Teixeira hit a grounder up the middle that would have been easy for a shifting Chris Taylor, but Gardner was going on the pitch, so Taylor was going to cover second base. The ball went to his right, making him look like a victim of an Allen Iverson crossover as Tex singled Gardner to third. After striking Brian McCann out on three pitches, King Felix left a breaking ball up to Carlos Beltran who smacked it the other way to drive Gardner in, tying the game at one.
Here's a little known fact about seventh inning reliever Justin Wilson: his success against hitters is determined almost entirely by the first pitch. Entering today's game, hitters had a wOBA of .350 through 1-0 counts and just .155 when Wilson threw a first pitch strike. That trend continued today as only Jesus Montero reached base after taking the first pitch for a ball.
In the bottom of the eighth, Lloyd McLendon went to recently ousted closer Fernando Rodney to face Alex Rodriguez. He got A-Rod to pop out to third, but Mark Teixeira hit it a bit further. He lined a pitch from Rodney 358 feet into the right field bleachers, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Tex's 23rd home run gives him more bombs than he had all of last season. Dellin Betances had been out for the top of the inning, so the shot to right brought the Yankees within three Andrew Miller outs of victory.
If the M's had trouble with the fastball/sweeping slider combo from CC, there was never any chance they'd do much better against Andrew Miller with each pitch moving five mph faster. Miller struck out two and retired the side in order to secure the series victory against the Mariners. Tomorrow is a day off, so you'll have to wait a bit for the matchup against the Orioles at home.