Results tagged ‘ Daric Barton ’

CC in comfort zone at Stadium

Think of the old Yankee Stadium and clips of Lefty Gomez or Whitey Ford come to mind. The renovated Stadium provided a showcase for Ron Guidry and Andy Pettitte. And there is little doubt that the left-handed pitcher most associated with the new Stadium is CC Sabathia.

Talk about a comfort zone. Sabathia’s tenure with the Yankees coincided with the opening of the new place in 2009 and has it ever been home to him these past two seasons.

His work Thursday in a 5-0 victory over the Athletics was nothing short of masterful. Oakland puts out a lineup that seems the equivalent of a Triple A team, and that is just the way CC handled the A’s. They managed one hit off him in eight innings, but an even greater measure of his dominance was that Sabathia didn’t allow the A’s to hit a ball out of the infield for 5 1/3 innings covering a stretch of 19 plate appearances.

Landon Powell flied out to left field to end the second inning. The next ball to reach the outfield by an A’s hitter was Coco Crisp’s fly to right for the second out in the eighth. In between, there were eight groundouts (one of which was a double play), three infield pops (two of them foul), four strikeouts, two walks, one hit batter and a player reaching on a throwing error by catcher Jorge Posada after fielding a dribbler in front of the plate.

“That’s as good as it gets,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Sabathia seems to be as good as it gets whenever he pitches at Yankee Stadium. He has not lost in his past 21 starts in the Bronx, matching a streak Ford had during the 1964 and ’65 seasons in the original building. The Yankees are 19-2 in those Sabathia starts. His personal record in those starts is 16-0 with a 2.05 ERA.

CC is 11-0 with a 2.27 ERA at the Stadium this year, the first Yankees pitcher in 12 years to win his first 11 home decisions of a season. David Wells and David Cone both did it in 1998. Over his two seasons with the Yankees at the Stadium, Sabathia is 18-2 with a 2.63 ERA. And that does not count his three postseason starts of 2009 when he was 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA. Sabathia’s only loss was in Game 1 of the World Series when he pitched well against the Phillies except for Chase Utley, who homered off him twice.

“Maybe it’s because I like my wife’s cooking,” CC says with a smile. “I enjoy being home and relaxing with my family.”

CC was able to get back home early Thursday because of his efficiency. Mark Ellis’ leadoff single to left in the second was the lone hit Sabathia surrendered. Two home runs by Curtis Granderson, a late fill-in for ailing Nick Swisher (sore left knee) and one by Posada gave CC all the run support he needed.

The only thing close to a rough patch was in the eighth when he hit the first batter and walked the next. Sabathia had plenty left in his tank as he struck out pinch hitter Daric Barton, got Crisp on that fly ball and Rajai Davis on another infield out.

Sabathia wanted to come out for the ninth, but Girardi decided to have the big guy call it a day.

“It was really hot,” Girardi said, “and we need to give him a break once in a while. He’s a big, strong man. He’s a football player playing baseball.”

“I can see myself playing the offensive line,” said Sabathia, who is 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds.

“He had no-hit stuff,” Posada said. “He had a great slider and changeup, especially the slider. His slider in, his slider away, he just kept throwing strikes.”

At 19-5 with a 3.02 ERA, Sabathia is a strong candidate for his second American League Cy Young Award. He has always said his Cy Young year of 2007 with the Indians was his most consistent, but 2010 is pretty close. What CC is also doing is working his way into the AL Most Valuable Player Award conversation.

No knock on Robinson Cano, but it could be argued that Sabathia has been equally as valuable to the Yankees, who have had issues with other pitchers in the rotation.

“He has been the one constant,” Girardi said. “That’s what aces do.”

A personality win for Burnett

A.J. Burnett’s start Wednesday night was a start, the Yankees hope, a start back to respectability. He had been absolutely dreadful since his previous victory six starts ago July 28 at Cleveland. Only for the confidence of his manager, Joe Girardi, did Burnett remain in the rotation.

Unlike his five starts in August when Burnett posted a record of 0-4 with a 7.80 ERA, he broke out a fastball with muscle and a breaking ball with bite. A.J. wasn’t perfect, by any means, and quite frankly was lucky to leave the game on the winning end of the score, thanks to shoddy fielding by his opponent, Oakland starter Brett Anderson.

The Athletics have booted balls all over the infield in this series. Anderson’s mishandling of a toss from first baseman Daric Barton in the second inning cost the A’s the third out of the inning and opened the gate for a three-run Yankees rally. Curtis Granderson alertly scored from second base on the play. Anderson walked Nick Swisher to load the bases for Mark Teixeira, who singled in two more runs.

That gave Burnett a 4-0 lead, but he quickly gave two back in the fourth on a home run by Kevin Kouzmanoff. The A’s closed to 4-3 in the fifth, and some rumbling could be heard in the Yankee Stadium crowd, here-we-go-again kind of stuff. Burnett held firm, however, and was treated to appreciative cheers as he walked off the mound at the end of the sixth.

“When he gave up runs, he came back and got some outs,” Girardi said. “I liked his approach. The big thing for me was the quality of his pitches.”

Except for eight strikeouts, Burnett’ pitching line was ordinary (six innings, six hits, three earned runs, two walks, one home run), unless when compared to some of the unsightly numbers he put up last month. It was a step forward, a baby step perhaps, but a step in the right direction nevertheless.

It was also a victory, which always feels nice.

“It was a personality win,” Girardi said, using a phrase he heard from Don Zimmer. “Zim used to say when a guy was struggling he needed a personality hit. You always want to feel like you’re contributing.”

Burnett joined CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez as pitchers with at least 10 victories, the first time in 11 years that the Yankees have had five pitchers reach double figures in victories in a season. The 1999 team featured Roger Clemens, David Cone, El Duque Hernandez, Hideki Irabu and Pettitte.

Speaking of Pettitte, he had a good bullpen session before Wednesday’s game and barring complications will next pitch a simulated game Saturday. 

Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera held the 4-3 score for Burnett. The game featured a strange twist near the end when Jorge Posada, batting for Francisco Cervelli, was ejected by plate umpire Dana DeMuth for arguing a called third strike. It was total snappage by Jorgie, who showed up DeMuth by pointing repeatedly at the area around the plate.

It was good for Girardi that Chad Moeller was around as a third catcher. His contract was purchased by the Yankees Wednesday as rosters expanded.

“I had already pinch-hit for [Eduardo] Nunez, so I needed [Ramiro] Pena to play third base,” Girardi said. “He’s our emergency catcher, so if Chad hadn’t been here I would have had to be creative.”