Saturday, May 9, 2009

A-Rod's Smashing Return

A-Rod Sparks Yankees to Win

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NY Yankees
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4 9 0
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WP - Sabathia (2-3) LP - Guthrie (2-3)

It only took one pitch to remind everyone just how much the Yankees have missed Alex Rodriguez‘ bat. With two men aboard in the first inning, A-Rod turned on a 98-mph fastball from Jeremy Guthrie and sent it into the left field seats for a 3-0 lead. That would be all the Yankees would need, because CC Sabathia turned in his best game of the season, a 4-hit complete game shutout that snapped the Yankees five game losing streak. Johnny Damon added an RBI double in the seventh and the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles, 4-0.

The game was all about the return of A-Rod, just days after the release of the controversial Selena Roberts‘ tome, “A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez. He joked with reporters and teammate Derek Jeter before the game that he was nervous and tried to figure out who would get more boos, him or Mark Teixeira. He answered, “no”, when asked if he used steroids in high school or with the Yankees as Roberts had claimed. Afterwards, he talked to YESKim Jones about how good it felt to be back with “the guys” and how important it was to focus on baseball.

Guthrie retired Jeter on the first pitch of the game, but then walked Damon and Teixeira to set up a quick showdown with Rodriguez. Orioles fans booed, Yankees fans gave a standing ovation and held up signs like “Support 13″. It was all Yankees fans reacting moments later when career home run number 554 landed in the left field seats.

It looked like it might be a seesaw affair when Sabathia gave up back to back singles to Brian Roberts and Adam Jones to start the home half of hte first. But Sabathia worked out of it with the help of rookie catcher Francisco Cervelli, who threw out Jones on the back end of a double steal. The 23-yr old enjoyed a fine game, in which he collected his first major league hit and a drew a walk.

Sabathia soared through the rest of the game, not allowing another hit until the ninth inning, which stopped a streak of 16 straight batters retired. Mariano Rivera started to get loose after Caesar Izturis and Roberts opened the inning with singles, but Sabathia struck out Jones, Nick Markakis, and Melvin Mora swinging to finish off the Yankees first complete game shutout in nearly three years. Sabathia celebrated with a fist pump and some fired up epitaphs.

Game Notes

The last complete game shutout by a Yankees starting pitcher was July 28, 2006 when Chien-Ming Wang blanked the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Bernie Williams started in right field that day and homered.

Pitcher Ian Kennedy was diagnosed with an aneurysm in his right shoulder and will undergo surgery on Tuesday. It’s the same procedure David Cone went through in 2006 after he felt numbness in his fingers. Dr. George Todd, who performed Cone’s procedure, will take operate on Kennedy as well.

The series continues tonight with Phil Hughes facing Adam Eaton.

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