Four years ago, it would have been normal for the Yankees to turn to their reliable ace CC Sabathia to stop a losing streak. The man has gone through trials and tribulations since then, and now fans unfortunately don't really know what to expect from him. Toward the end of last season though, he came up with a few big wins and once again tonight, the former Cy Young Award winner channeled his former self. Sabathia blanked the powerful Orioles and the Yankees' offense actually gave him some support en route to a 7-0 victory.
For five innings, the Yankees and O's were locked in a scoreless tie. The Yankees threatened multiple times against Tyler Wilson but as has so often been the case in 2016, they were unable to bring the runners home. Jacoby Ellsbury ran into an out in the first inning, Brett Gardner stranded Ellsbury 90 feet away in the third, and Brian McCann hit into an inning-ending double play. Meanwhile, Sabathia danced around the heart of the O's lineup, holding Manny Machado at second base by retiring Adam Jones and Chris Davis to end the first and later inducing rally-killing double plays from Jones and Nolan Reimold in the third and fourth, respectively.
Baltimore's best chance to score came in the fifth when Yankee-killer Jonathan Schoop smashed a double to left field. Sabathia struck out catcher Caleb Joseph but allowed a single to Ryan Flaherty. Schoop had to hold at third, but Baltimore had the top of the lineup ready for him with just one out. Undeterred, Sabathia struck out Joey Rickard and even survived the ever-dangerous Machado, who lined out to Ellsbury in center to end the inning.
The Yankees finally gave their starter some well-deserved run support in the sixth. With one out, Ellsbury slashed his second of three hits on the night with a single to right and followed it with his second stolen base of the game. Gardner singled too, though Ellsbury had to hold at third. Carlos Beltran then lifted a sacrifice fly to at last get the Yankees on the board. They were far from over. Mark Teixeira worked a walk and Brian McCann lined an RBI single. Starlin Castro hit a comebacker that Wilson threw away, scoring Teixeira to make it 3-0. Aaron Hicks grounded out to retire the side, but the damage was done.
Sabathia finished his night by retiring the last four batters he faced and fanning Joseph again to finish the seventh. He threw seven innings of shutout ball, allowing six hits and two walks but using six strikeouts and three double plays to keep Baltimore off the board. It was exactly the kind of outing the struggling needed from their elder statesman. Praise be to the magic knee brace:
Once Sabathia left the game, the hitters had a nice breakout of their own against the O's bullpen in the eighth. T.J. McFarland allowed doubles to Beltran and McCann while also walking Teixeira. McCann's double brought Beltran and sent McFarland to the showers in favor of former top prospect Dylan Bundy. At first, it appeared that Bundy would work out of it when he turned away Castro and Hicks, but Didi Gregorius came up with a two-out hit, singling McCann home. Chase Headley even got in the act with a single and Bundy walked Ellsbury to load the bases.
Gardner gave the Yankees their seventh run, but at a cost. Bundy drilled him on the right elbow to force in a run. Although he stayed in the game for the bottom of the eighth, he departed in favor of Dustin Ackley in the ninth. X-rays were fortunately negative after the game, but the Yankees will have to monitor his elbow going forward.
Kirby Yates ran into trouble in the eighth when he walked Rickard, gave up a double to Machado, and walked the normally aggressive Jones to load the bases for Davis. Not wanting the weaker part of his bullpen to potentially give up a grand slam with Davis and Mark Trumbo coming up, Joe Girardi called on Dellin Betances to snap his uncharacteristic short streak of shaky outings. The righty came through, blowing Davis away with a strikeout and getting Tuesday night hero Trumbo to foul out. Chasen Shreve pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts, clinching the 7-0 victory and snapping the six-game losing streak.
Tomorrow night, the Yankees will actually go for a series victory (!) with their best arm. Masahiro Tanaka will face Kevin Gausman at 7:05. Hopefully, the offense will keep up the good work.