Credit: Adam Hunger/Getty Images
Despite CC Sabathia pitching like this is truly his final year in Pinstripes, the Yankees staged a very improbable and dramatic comeback to beat the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
Mark Trumbo’s grand slam in the sixth inning off reliever Bryan Mitchell had me switching channels to check out what was happening with the NFL Draft. At 9-1, I was fairly confident the Yankees would be falling to two games behind the O’s in the AL East standings when the night was done. Fortunately for me, none of the current 25 men on the Yankees roster shared my opinion.
Yesterday before the game, I read this observation about CC Sabathia on a Yankees blog site:
“It’s hard to judge CC Sabathia, seeing as how he’s a different pitcher than he was just a couple of years ago. However, I believe his final ERA this season will be closer to 5.00 than it will be to 3.00 (he’s currently at 2.70).”
While I agreed with the comments, I just didn’t expect it to come true on a single night. By the time CC was pulled last night in the sixth inning, his season ERA had ballooned from the aforementioned 2.70 to 4.34. CC’s line was very ugly…5 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 7 runs, 2 home runs. It doesn’t matter that he managed to strike out 6 batters. It was an awful night for CC and most nights, it would have been one for the “L” column.
Although the Yankees scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, which included a two-run homer from Aaron Judge, to close the gap to 9-4, it looked like the Orioles were going to have a monster inning in the seventh. They scored a couple more runs off Mitchell to push their lead to 11-4 and had the bases loaded with one out. In perhaps the best pitching performance of the night, Jonathan Holder came on to thwart the O’s and the end the inning without further damage by retiring the always dangerous Manny Machado and slugger Mark Trumbo.
When Jacoby Ellsbury hit his first career grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to bring the score to 11-8, it still felt like it was too little too late but the door was cracked. It was a game again. Coming into the bottom of the ninth, it still felt like the 11-8 score was too much to overcome. With elite closer Zach Britton on the Disabled List, the O’s had to go to Brad Brach for the attempted save. After picking up a run on a force-out, Starlin Castro launched an improbable game-tying two-run home run from his knees.
The game moved into extra innings and Aroldis Chapman held the O’s in check in the top of the 10th despite allowing a single to Mark Trumbo. He racked up his second strike-out of the frame by ending the O’s threat on a called third strike to Chris Davis.
Enter bottom of the tenth. Orioles reliever Jayson Aquino came on to replace Brach, and proceeded to walk the first two batters (Aaron Hicks and Kyle Higashioka). Chase Headley had an opportunity to be the hero but struck out swinging as he chased a few high pitches. Next up, Matt Holliday, a member of the New York Yankees for a grand total of 21 games. Aquino opted to throw a soft change-up to Holliday with his first pitch. Big mistake. Game over. Yankees win, 14-11. Wow, games don’t get much more exciting than this. For new players to the Bronx, there is often a long adjustment period. For Holliday, he decided that patience is not a virtue and decided to go ahead and carve his own piece of history into the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium three weeks into his new Pinstriped career. It was an incredible game.
The Yankees and Orioles are tied for the AL East Lead with 14-7 records entering today’s action. I know, it’s still early and it is a long season, but this Yankees team is very fun. It’s been fun since the trading deadline last year and has continued. Aaron Judge ended up hitting two home runs on the night which I didn’t really address in this post. He is rapidly becoming ‘must-watch’ with every at-bat. Matt Holliday’s accolades for Judge were overflowing in his post-game comments. We are clearly watching the blossoming of a Yankees superstar before our eyes. Had Judge homered in the bottom of the ninth instead of walking, this game would have been on continual replay on the YES Network.
Have a great Saturday! It will be tough to top Friday night, but let’s take this series today. Go Yankees!