(Welcome back, bud. Courtesy of Getty Images)
There aren't many pitching matchups better on paper than CC Sabathia vs. Felix Hernandez, and somehow that storyline took a backseat last night. After having his forearm fractured on one of the first pitches of his first Spring Training at-bat, Curtis Granderson returned to the Yankee lineup tonight, the first of what is hopefully many more high-profile DL returns this season. He was in an unfamiliar position, both in the outfield (starting in left) and in the lineup (batting 4th), but I'm sure he was just happy to be back playing in games that matter and back to having that short porch in right.
- Tough first AB for Curtis, who came up with 2 on and 1 out in the bottom of the first. After working a 3-1 count against Hernandez, he swung at a sinker and grounded it into an inning-ending double play. He finished the night 0-3 with a BB, K, and R scored.
- CC cruised through a 1-2-3 1st, and was in trouble seemingly every inning thereafter. He put 2 men on in the 2nd, gave up an unearned run on a double in the 3rd, and escaped a bases loaded jam in the 4th. He just wasn't fooling anybody with his fastball.
- In typical King Felix fashion, he absolutely dominated the Yankee lineup through 5. He allowed just 2 more baserunners after the 1st, striking out 8 hitters. His line could have been even better had he not left after 6 innings with an apparent leg injury.
- CC gave up a HR to former Yankee, and still Yankee hero, Raul Ibanez to make it 3-0 Seattle in the 6th, but recovered to strike out the side after on some nasty offspeed stuff. He was done after 6.1 and 12 total baserunners.
- The Yankees got to Felix for a run in the 6th, and after he left they struck in a big way against the Seattle bullpen. Charlie Furbush got beat for 3 walks, a clutch 2-run double by Robinson Cano, and a sac fly to cough up the lead and make it 4-3 Yanks. Classic Yankee patience on display in that inning.
- The Yankee bullpen, as usual, put on a clinic in holding a lead in the 8th and 9th with the usual suspects. David Robertson used almost all 4-seamers and no cutters to handle the 8th, while Mo was who you thought he was for a 1-2-3 9th and his 16th save.
- Cano: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 LOB. Great at-bat from Cano in the 7th, staying patient despite falling behind 0-1 and 1-2. He waited Furbush out, made him work, and made him pay when he missed with a curveball. Much better than the swing-happy Robbie we've seen for the past few games.
- Yankee 'Pen: Combined 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K. You want more than 6+ from CC, and when you don't get it you need the bullpen to be good. We expect these results from D-Rob and Mo, but props to Shawn Kelley for working out of a jam in the 7th too. He's been pretty damn good lately.
- Bottom of the order: Combined 2-15, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 11 LOB. Nix, Ichiro, Nelson, and Romine were the offensive black hole last night. Both hits and the run were Nelson's, and nobody here did anything to pick up for the loss of Hafner.
Phil Hughes and and the surprisingly good Hisashi Iwakuma get the starts tonight for game two of this series.