Saturday, April 10, 2010

Game 5 Recap

[WPA data via FanGraphs]

1. The Yanks put runners on first and second with one out for Derek Jeter in the 3rd inning but Jeter rapped into a double play. It was the biggest shift in WPA in the game at the time but didn't end up mattering much.

2. With the game still scoreless in the top of the 4th, Mark Teixeira worked a six pitch walk from Wade Davis. After A-Rod popped out to just behind second base and slammed his bat to the ground in disgust, Robinson Cano launched a 1-1 fastball from Davis into the right field seats, 2-0 Yanks. As he did with his first homer in Fenway, Cano dropped his lumber and took a moment to admire his handiwork. I can't blame him, but I'm guessing that's the kind of thing opposing pitchers don't take too kindly to.

3. In the 5th, the Yankees plated another two runs but went with a small ball approach instead. Brett Gardner led off with a single and was moved over to 2nd by a well-placed bunt off the bat of Francisco Cervelli that was almost good enough for a hit. Jeter then flipped a single to center, scoring Gardner. Two batters latter Teixeira finally got his first hit of the season, driving in Jeter to put the Yanks up 4-0.

4. CC Sabathia was perfect through 4 innings but allowed a leadoff walk to Evan Longoria to begin the 5th, lowering his best case scenario to a no-hitter.

5. The tension of the possible no-no began to mount in the 6th inning. Kelly Shoppach hit a sharp line drive to left field which Brett Gardner was in good position to field for the first out. With two down, Jason Bartlett battled through a 7 pitch at bat, fouling off three before being robbed of a base hit by a diving Mark Teixeira.

6. Carl Crawford walked to leadoff the 7th. Next, in a rather odd play, Ben Zobrist bounced one back at Sabathia and the big fella threw a little wide of second. Crawford arrived in time but overslid the bag and a heads up Cano was right there to apply the tag. Technically, he was safe and then made a base running error but the play was ruled a fielder's choice. Either way, the no-hitter was still intact. Upton was at the plate next and ripped a line drive right at third base but A-Rod made a diving stab, popped to his feet and threw a frozen rope to nail Upton at first. Inning over.

7. The Yanks blew the game open in the 8th, which wasn't exactly good for Sabathia. He was at 100 pitches and although any pitcher would enjoy four additional runs of support, it took the Yanks almost 20 minutes to tally them up and the anxiety of wanting to complete a no-hitter probably made it feel like even longer. 8-0, Yanks.

8. To begin the bottom of the 8th, Willy Aybar hit a bouncer up the middle that Sabathia deflected with his pitching hand. It bounced towards Cano who made the play in stride. One away. Next, Pat Burrell lofted a high fly to center. Two down. With Sabathia 109 pitches deep, Kelly Shoppach came to the plate and flailed at a first pitch change up. The crowd urged the big lefty on, but on the next pitch, Shoppach lined one to left field in front of Gardner, breaking up the no-hit bid. Joe Girardi immediately popped out of the dugout to remove Sabathia and CC was greeted with a standing ovation on his way back to the dugout.

9. The Yanks tagged on two more runs in the top of the 9th and David Robertson, who took over for CC in the 8th - got the final three outs. Yanks 10, Rays 0. Fin.

IFs, ANDs & BUTs
  • Clearly, the story of the game was Sabathia's performance. The Yankees haven't had a no-hitter since David Cone's perfect game back in 1999 and every time a pitcher gets close, the game, no matter how out of hand, becomes highly captivating. This was about as much fun to watch as an early season game gets.

  • Sabathia also made a slick play on a ball hit by Carl Crawford in the 4th. On a grounder back up the middle, CC's follow through left his glove hanging in the right place at the right time. He was able to snag it gracefully and throw to first seemingly before Crawford even got out of the box.

  • The Cervelli-Sabathia tandem got off to a great start least year as well, combining for a complete game shutout in Baltimore.

  • Cervelli also contributed offensively as well, knocking in a two-run double during the Yanks' onslaught in the 8th.

  • When the no-hitter was broken up, Old Hoss Radbourn informed the Twitterverse what he would do under similar circumstances.
The series finale is tomorrow at 1:40.

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