Friday, August 14, 2009

CC=Cruise Control

CC Sabathia seems to have a thing for August. It's almost as if when the Dog Days roll around, the big lefthander becomes nearly unbeatable.

Sabathia continued that trend Thursday at Safeco Field, striking out 10 and allowing one run on three hits in eight innings to lead the Yankees to an 11-1 victory over the Mariners to start a crucial seven-game West Coast swing on the right foot. The Yankees also moved 6-1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East.

Sabathia (13-7, 3.64 ERA), quite simply, is at his best in August. Since 2005, he is 18-2 in the month and for his career he is 31-9.

Sabathia now has three wins in three August starts, including a dominant victory over the Red Sox Saturday. He is becoming the stud horse the Yankees believed they were getting when the signing him in the offseason.

And his surge is coming at a key time as the Yankees make their push to return to the playoffs and secure a division title for the first time since 2006.

Fortunately for Sabathia, though, this season unlike his last two seasons with the Indians and Brewers, the Yankees aren't relying on him to carry them down the stretch. This team is deep enough and talented enough so that it doesn't have to overtax any one guy.

That hopefully will translate to him being strong and performing better in the postseason that he has in the past.

Bur first the Yankees have to get there and Thursday, CC's dominance allowed the Yankees banged up offense to relax an go into cruise control. Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada were not in the lineup and Derek Jeter start and homered, before coming out once the Yankees had the game in hand.

Sabathia walked just two and threw 75 of 105 pitches for strikes, the lone run he allowed was a homer by Josh Wilson in the fifth, but the Yankees had the game well in hand at 6-1.

Meanwhile, Hideki Matsui made up for any slack the offense might have felt with A-Rod's and Posada's absence by going 4-for-5 with two homers and five RBI. His two-run homer in the third broke the game open, give Sabathia a 5-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the seventh and another two-run homer in the eighth.

Matsui's performance was just the highlight for an offense that pounded Mariners starter Ian Snell, who has not been good since his arrival from Pittsburgh. Snell allowed eight runs on nine hits and three walks in six innings.

Derek Jeter homered leading off the third and Jerry Hairston Jr., starting for A-Rod is may not start again tonight, went 2-for-5, including an RBI single in the second that gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead and an RBI double in the seventh to make it 9-1.

Runners In Scoring Position
Thursday
4-for-14 (.286)
Season
281-for-1,081 (.260)
First Half
217-for-819 (.265)
Second Half
65-for-260 (.250)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
216-for-809 (.267)
Vs. Red Sox
20-for-126 (.159)

Up Next
Friday at Seattle, 10:10 p.m., YES
Andy Pettitte (9-6, 4.14) vs. Ryan Rowland-Smith (2-1, 3.86)

Pettitte is 1-1 with 1.87 ERA in his five starts since the All-Star break, covering a 33-2/3 innings. I'd say this game is huge with Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin originally scheduled to start Saturday and Sunday respectively, but the Yankees have reversed course and Joba Chamberlain will now start Sunday. So much for having his starts for the rest of the season mapped out.

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