(Once again, good but not great. Courtesy of The AP)
The Orioles are the closest threat to the Yankees' slim division lead after taking 2 of 3 over the weekend, but the Rays have been no slouch right behind them. Tampa isn't just playing for a Wild Card spot with their recent hot streak, they are very much in the discussion for the AL East crown and can make that discussion even more interesting with a series win over the stumbling, bumbling Bronx Bummers. The Yankees had the right man on the mound to put the breaks on their skid in CC Sabathia yesterday afternoon, and a recent whipping boy across the way in James Shields. A-Rod was back in the lineup,
- Tough start for CC. He got dinked and dunked to death in giving up an RBI single in the 2nd inning, then gave up a solo HR to B.J. Upton to start off the 3rd.
- After getting shut down the first time through the order, the Yankee lineup broke out for 3 runs off Shields in the top of the 4th. The big hits were a Robinson Cano double and a Raul Ibanez RBI triple with some infield hits sprinkled in, including A-Rod's first hit off the DL.
- The Rays manufactured a run on a double steal and an RBI groundout in the 5th to tie the game back up, but they wouldn't have been able to if CC hadn't given up a walk and a base hit to start the inning.
- As they've done time and time again, the Yankee offense went completely off the grid after their 1 big inning. Shields sat them down in order in the 5th and the 6th, and they wasted the 2 baserunners they did get in the 7th and 8th with immediate GIDPs.
- Sabathia was hardly the shutdown pitcher his team needed him to be yesterday, but he gave them a chance with 7 innings of 3-run ball. I was surprised to see Joe go to him to start the 7th, but with the kind of middle relief he's gotten lately, a tired CC is a way better option and CC came up with arguably his best inning of the game.
- D-Rob came in to hold a 3-3 game in the bottom of the 8th and promptly gave up a leadoff single. That one was erased by a nice call and great throw by Russell Martin to nail the pinch runner stealing, but Robertson did allow 2 more hits and steal after that to give Tampa the 1-run lead heading into the 9th.
- Joe played the bench game brilliantly in the 9th, pinch running Eduardo Nunez and getting a steal and pinch hitting Curtis Granderson for Martin against Rodney, but Granderson struck out and the division lead was down to 1.
- Ibanez: 1-3, 1 3B, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 LOB. The team's biggest hit of the game, and more than anybody else who came up after Cano did in the 4th inning "rally."
- Martin: 2-3, 1 RBI, 1 SB, 2 LOB. Was the only player with a multi-hit day at the plate, and was a factor on the basepaths both offensively and defensively. Unfortunately for him, he's been such a liability with the bat this year that hitting C-Grand for him actually made sense.
- Nick Swisher: 0-4, 2 K, 1 LOB. A hitless day for Swish usually corresponds with a Yankee loss these days.
- Ichiro Suzuki: 0-3, 2 K, 4 LOB. Been quietly doing a whole lot of nothing lately. Hasn't scored or driven in a run, or had more than 1 hit in a game since 8/26. When you don't draw any walks, that pretty much makes you worthless in the lineup and that's what Ichiro is right now.
- CC: 7 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. I want to give Carsten some credit somewhere, but I just can't in a game where he allows 10 total baserunners, only throws 8 swinging strikes, gets more outs in the air than on the ground, and coughs up the one lead his lineup gave him. The HR has been a problem for CC all year long, just like everybody else in the Yankee rotation. There comes a point where more "good rather than great" starts from your ace in big situations becomes an issue. We're getting to that point with CC.
Freddy Garcia will try to be the stopper tonight and keep the division lead solely in the possession of the Yankees. He'll square off against Alex Cobb from Tampa as well as his own lineup, which has really been a letdown and wasn't much help to CC yesterday.