Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CC Doesn't Flinch in a Pinch

Written for Baseball Digest.

With his team sputtering through the month of September, manager Joe Girardi wasn’t fooling around when it came to last night’s New York Yankees – Toronto Blue Jays game. Girardi altered his pitching plans to send ace CC Sabathia to the mound and the big man rewarded his skipper and his teammates with a dominant performance that clinched a playoff spot for the ball club.

Alex Rodriguez knocked in a pair of runs and Derek Jeter scored three times as the Yankees topped the Blue Jays 6-1. The story of the game without a doubt though was the performance of Sabathia, who got knocked around in his last start against Tampa Bay. He allowed two hits through the first eight innings, both by Travis Snider (Who also supplied the lone Toronto run with a solo home run), before putting the first two hitters aboard in the 9th. It wasn’t a save situation, but again Girardi was taking no chances- enter Sandman. Mariano Rivera retired the final two hitters to preserve Sabathia’s 21st win of the season and set off a celebration as the Yankees clinched a playoff spot for the 14th time in 15 years.

The Yankees remained in second place in the AL East as the Rays also clinched a playoff spot with a shutout of the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays had their ace, David Price (19-6), going as well in the 5-0 win over the O’s.

As champagne was sprayed about in the visitor’s locker room, Girardi would only confirm one thing- CC Sabathia will get the ball in Game 1 of the Division series. All that remains to be seen is who the Yankees opponent will be and whether or not they have home field advantage.

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