Can we bury all that ridiculous talk about CC Sabathia no longer being able to compete in American League now?
The guy is a legit ace and can pitch in any league and beat any team, no matter what Dave says.
Sabathia had his fifth straight strong start, holding the Indians hitless for 4-1/3 innings and leading the Yankees to a 10-5 victory in Cleveland Saturday. The Yankees have won 14 of 17 and now lead the Red Sox and Blue Jays by 1-1/2 games in the AL East.
Sabathia has been the anchor of this run, going 4-0 over those five starts with a 2.08 ERA. He's struck out 32 in 39 innings and has made his April struggles nothing but a distant memory. For the season he's 5-3 with a 3.46 ERA and he has become everything the Yankees were hoping for when they signed him in the offseason.
For comparison's sake, the best ERA for a Red Sox starter is Tim Wakefield's 4.55, followed by Josh Beckett's 4.60. But that, Boston's inability to win on the road and the Red Sox's 15-16 record since their 11-game winning streak, are all issues for Dave to worry about. I'll keep my focus on the first-place Yankees.
So let's start by focusing on the starting pitching. In this 14-3 stretch, the starters are 7-1 with a 3.26 ERA (37 runs in 102 innings). They have nine quality starts in this run and are averaging 6 innings per start, including Joba Chamberlain's abbreviated two-thirds of an inning outing.
And it all starts with CC.
Saturday, in his first outing in Cleveland as a visitor, Sabathia allowed three runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out eight and threw 70 of 113 pitches for strikes.
And over the first four innings, he was dominant, throwing just 48 pitches. The Indians couldn't touch him. and he gave the offense plenty of time to get going ... and did it ever.
Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher homered in the second and the Yankees pounded out five more runs in the fourth against Fausto Carmona to put this one away. Hideki Matsui went 3-for-5 with an RBI, Robinson Cano 2-for-5 with 3 RBI and Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to 13 games. The only starter not to get a hit was Brett Gardner ... and he still scored a run.
The Yankees went 5-for-14 with runners in scoring position and are 59-for-184 (.321) since Alex Rodriguez rejoined the team on May 8. It's a dramatic turnaround for a unit that was hitting .246 with RISP before A-Rod's return.
This is how Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman envisioned the offense and starting pitching when the season began. But during this winning stretch, the Yankees' defense might be the biggest surprise.
The Yankees have gone 16 games without an error, one short of the major league record set by those vile Red Sox in 2006. How sweet would it be to erase the Sox from that record, especially because entering the season, the Yankees' defense was suspect?
The biggest reason for the dramatic improvement is Mark Teixeira, who not only is able to make the plays on off-target throws from the other infielders, but also makes plays in the field the Yankees have not seen since the days of Tino Martinez.
Yes, Teixeira's offensive prowess is huge, but his defense reminds us just what we were missing in the Jason Giambi era.
The only down note on this night was Jose Veras ... and isn't he always a down note? He allowed two more runs while closing out the win. I'm not going to get too wrapped up in it other than to say, designate him for assignment NOW! He's of no use to this team.
But when you get starting pitching like the Yankees have been getting, you can absorb Veras' disasters.
And when Sabathia is that starting pitcher, odds are always very good the Yanks will win.
Andy Pettitte said his back is improving and he expects to make his next start against the Rangers on Wednesday. He tweaked his back Monday in Texas and aggravated it during the win Friday. Again, I say the only way he should make his next start is if he is 100 percent healthy. Otherwise, take the extra days of treatment and let Chien-Ming Wang fill in.
Runners In Scoring Position
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
Sunday at Indians, 12:40 p.m., YES, TBS
Phil Hughes (3-2, 5.16) vs. Carl Pavano (5-4, 5.50)
Hughes is coming off his best start as a major leaguer, but needs to back that up with another strong start to help secure his spot in the rotation and in the majors.