After sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, the Yankees began their series in Detroit against the Tigers (11-2) with a 2-1 loss. CC Sabathia pitched his first complete come since July 9 of 2013 while throwing eight strong innings and only allowing two runs, but the Yankees lost because they were only 1-5 with runners in scoring position.
The only run that the Yankees scored was a homer to right center on an 0-2 pitch by Mark Teixeira in the second inning. After that at bat he was hitting 7-15 with two homers against Tigers starter Alfredo Simon. With Teixeira’s homer, he moved into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time homer list for switch hitters passing Lance Berkman with 367. However, Teixeira went 0-3 in his next three at-bats and is now hitting .190 this season.
Didi Gregorius, who has struggled so far this season after coming to the Yankees in the three-way trade that sent Shane Greene to the Tigers, had the only hit with a runner in scoring position. In the eighth inning, with Chase Headley on second with one out, Gregorius singled to center to advance Headley to third.
However, the Yankees didn’t score since the third base coach decided to be safe and hold Headley at third. There was about a 50/50 chance that Headley would have scored. The Yankees were not able to score in the eighth inning because Joba Chamberlain, who was a Yankee for the first seven years of his career, got Jacoby Ellsbury to ground into a double play.
Headley was the only other positive offensively as he had two singles. It was his third multi-hit game of the season and he now has a three-game hitting streak. He improved his average to .260. However, Gregorius, Stephen Drew, Carlos Beltran and Teixeira all have to hit better since they are all hitting .200 or worse. That is too many hitters in the lineup with a very low average.
Sabathia was able to throw more than 90 miles per hour in the eighth inning, had five strikeouts, was able to get the Tigers to hit into three double plays and had a very encouraging third start of the season. His changeup is getting much better as the Tigers were 2-12 in at-bats that ended with a Sabathia change.
“Arm speed is a big deal,” McCann said. “When your arm speed’s there and it looks exactly like your fastball and it’s a six, seven mile-per-hour difference, you’re going to get a lot of ground balls and you’re going to keep it off the barrel.”
Throwing the change more is part of his transformation as a pitcher. He was able to get Miguel Cabrera, who is one of the top-three hitters in baseball, to ground into a double play in the first and fourth innings and had a shutout through six innings.
In the seventh inning, he allowed a single to Rajai Davis and then intentionally walked Victor Martinez with two outs. J.D. Martinez’s single tied the game and then Yoenis Cespedes’s single to center that scored Martinez ended up being the winning run. Jacoby Ellsbury had a chance of throwing Martinez out at home but decided to go for the sure out since he was able to get J.D. Martinez out in a run down. He would have had to have made a perfect throw to home since Victor Martinez was able to get a running start with two outs.
Sabathia definitely pitched well enough to get the win but the offense wasn’t able to give him enough run support. There were some extra-base hits that were prevented by outstanding catches from Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, but If Sabathia can continue to pitch the way he did the rest of the season then he will win many games because the offense will usually score more runs for him.
CC Sabathia tied Sam McDowell for 35th on the all-time strikeout list with 2,453. Nathan Eovaldi will get the start in Game 2 of the series and he will look to strike out nine like he did in his last start but pitch deeper into the game than the five innings he threw against the Baltimore Orioles.