It's been a long time since we last saw CC Sabathia take the mound for the Yankees. It's been almost 10 months since Sabathia last appeared in a game, but he returned tonight for his first start of the spring against the Blue Jays. He was scheduled to throw about 35 pitches, and his first inning of work, he looked like the CC of old against the formidable top of the Blue Jays lineup. Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista both grounded out while in the middle, CC struck out Josh Donaldson.
CC's second inning wasn't quite as smooth, as he surrendered a leadoff single to Dioner Navarro, and after inducing a fly ball from Dayan Viciedo and fanning Dalton Pompey, Toronto notched three straight two-out hits against him to take a 2-0 lead. A nice relay cut down the potential third run at the plate, but despite the somewhat rocky ending, it was still encouraging to see CC out there. After the game, he said he felt nervous about the start, but that he liked the way his fastball and cutter moved. Even though he acknowledged that his changeup needs some work, that's all that matters at this point. A pitcher is allowed to be a little rough in his first start of the spring, and it was nice to see CC's fastball sit in the 90s, too. Here's hoping the knee feels fine tomorrow.
Against Blue Jays starter Josh Hutchison in the bottom of the second, the Yankees struck back. Garrett Jones worked a one-out walk, and Chris Young and Stephen Drew singled back-to-back, allowing Jones to score the Yankees' first run of the night. Toronto countered by surprisingly tacking on a run against Dellin Betances, who came on in the third for Sabathia. Reyes led off the third with a long fly to center that went for a triple, and Donaldson brought him home with a groundout.
Yankees fans were treated to a pleasant surprise in the bottom of the fourth when Mark Teixeira demonstrated that perhaps there was an easier solution to the shift--opposite field dingers. Since Tex has become such a pull hitter, it's almost stunning to see him go the other way, but that's what he did, belting a solo shot to left off Hutchison in the fourth. Unfortunately, that was the end of the Yankees' scoring for the night.
Toronto added a fourth run thanks to a mini-rally with Kyle Davies on the hill that was somewhat assisted by shoddy defense, but otherwise, Yankees pitching was fine. Justin Wilson, Domingo German, Chris Martin, and Jared Burton all allowed at least one hit, but none of them allowed the Blue Jays to score. Bidding for a potential spot in the back of the bullpen, the righty Martin pitched better than anyone tonight by striking out three Jays in two innings of work while allowing just one baserunner.
The Yankees offense was otherwise dormant against Toronto's pitching staff. Young was the only player to register a multi-hit game, and aside from Tex's dinger, the only extra-base hits came from Carlos Beltran, Tyler Austin, and Jose Pirela. By the way, Pirela tripled with one out to go in the game to try to keep it alive. He should really be getting a bench job, but whatever. Brendan Ryan's a happenin' dude, I guess.
Masahiro Tanaka takes the hill tomorrow for the Yankees on the road against the Braves at the somewhat-unusual time of 6:05pm.