Tuesday, April 4, 2017
CC Sabathia took care of business on the mound, and the veteran lefty received long-ball support to lead the Yankees to a 5-0 win over the Rays Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
Backed by home runs from Ronald Torreyes and Chase Headley, Sabathia held the Rays down on three hits and two walks over five innings to pick up his team’s first victory of the year.
“You always want to get that first win of the season,” Sabathia said. “This is a young team. It’s a talented team. It’s up to us to play well.”
“[Sabathia] has that ability to keep the ball off the barrel, and that’s what he did,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “I don’t think it was any fault of the hitters. I think you have to credit CC for his performance.”
Torreyes hit a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw from Rays starter Jake Odorizzi with no outs in the third. According to Statcast™, Torreyes’ “barreled” blast traveled 402 feet and had an exit velocity of 99.6 mph with a 29-degree launch angle. Matt Holliday added a roof-aided RBI double to stake the Yankees to a 3-0 lead.
I’ve said this before, but if you had asked me in 2009 if I thought that CC Sabathia could become the sort of pitcher who could get by without his fastball in his mid-30s and instead use location and intelligent pitching to remain a good pitcher, a la, well, most Hall of Famers who pitched into their late 30s, I would have told you, “Yep, that’s precisely the sort of pitcher that CC Sabathia seems to be. That’s exactly what I expect to happen to him.” But then he had his long stretch of, well, you know, sucking. Then last season he looked like that sort of pitcher. You know, sort of like a worse version of old Andy Pettitte or old Hiroki Kuroda (Kuroda’s fastball aged REALLY well). However, how do you reconcile his years of sucking versus his one year of competent “location hitting”? It’s difficult to do, so that’s why it is so hard to project CC this year. Could he be 2008 Mike Mussina type? Sure. Could he be a 2007 Mike Mussina type (as in, a bad pitcher)? Sure. It’s very difficult to know what to expect.
Tonight, though, he was at his Moyer-esque best, keeping the Rays off balance all night, inducing great contact (by which it was not great contact for the hitters) almost all night long. It was great. The bullpen was strong once again, with Betances spinning a vintage performance in the 8th (a walk to load the bases but then getting out of it).
Chase Headley last season proved that his poor defensive showing in 2015 was probably a fluke, and thus he adds value to the team just by being decent offensively (as he is great defensively), but he has started the season on fire offensively, so if he could ever combine the two (like he did that one season), hoo boy, watch out! Of course, it is unlikely to happen, but still. Gary Sanchez continues making hard contact when he makes contact, but hasn’t gotten a hit yet. I’m not worried about him at all (and he was excellent behind the plate), but it’s still annoying for your young star player to be hitless through the first two games. It will come, though.
Tomorrow night is a fascinating match-up, as both teams send out pitchers with promise who don’t always capitalize on said promise, with Michael Pineda going against Alex Cobb. It’d be great to see some more offense, as Pineda might not do so great on the pitching side of things.
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