It's fun being right.
In Monday's A's series preview I wrote "Sabathia should dominate the A's lineup and I expect the big man to come through once again in this contest." Obviously this was far from a bold proclamation, but nevertheless it feels good to be validated. And it feels even better in the face of nonsensical comments like this guy's.
Of course, despite my confident prediction I can't say I expected CC Sabathia to toss eight innings of one-hit ball, using only 95 pitches to record 24 outs. Sabathia was outrageously good, taking advantage of an incredibly light-hitting A's team that hit four balls past the infield as the Yankees won their sixth straight game, 5-0. I was a little disappointed that CC didn't come back out for the ninth given his low pitch count, but I also understand Joe not wanting to needlessly tire the big man out in a game that was all but locked up, while also getting a look at what the team may have in the new-and-improved Jonathan Albaladejo (who pitched a scoreless ninth).
Still, it's not all that often that a Yankee starter tosses a complete-game shutout. The last one came on May 8, 2009 (a.k.a. Alex Rodriguez's first game of the season), and was unsurprisingly authored by Sabathia, and prior to that the Yankees hadn't had one since July 28, 2006. In fact, the Yankees have only had 18 complete-game shutouts in the past 10 seasons. So yeah, it would've been pretty cool to see Sabathia pick one up. Ah well.
Outside of a Jorge Posada solo shot in the second that staked the Yankees to a 1-0 lead, Dallas Braden continued his mastery over the Bombers (allowing only two hits), and the home nine caught a big break when Braden had to be removed from the game with no outs in the top of the 6th due to cramps. I don't want to get too crazy in a game the Yanks ended up winning, but just what is it about guys like Braden who top out at 88mph and can take 12-13 mph off their "fastball"? It's incredible that the Yankees can bash guys with 95-mph heat, but if a guy has a fastball in the high-80s with a nasty changeup the team is utterly clueless. Obviously when your location is impeccable, a la 2008 Mike Mussina, a diminished arsenal can still work wonders. And in Braden's case, it probably helps him exponentially being a southpaw.
Anyway, after Jerry Blevins came in to relieve Braden and picked Derek Jeter off (cue eye roll), Curtis Granderson greeted him with a booming solo home run to right field, doubling the Yankee lead. Even in CC's magical hands a 1-0 lead can still feel tenuous, so that was a huge blast (and unsurprisingly, the biggest WPA swing of the game). An inning later Curtis would double the lead again with his second home run of the game, a two-run blast for his 17th of the year. The Yankees added a run in the eighth on an Austin Kearns single that scored a hustling Lance Berkman, who had picked up a single of his own.
The win gave the Yankees their first four-game sweep of the season, improved their record against the A's in 2010 to 9-1, enabled Sabathia to tie his career-high in wins at 19 (with at least four more chances to pick up that elusive 20th) and extended their winning streak to six games. All in all, not a bad afternoon.