Saturday, April 11, 2009

CC Sabathia, Nick Swisher Lead Yanks Past Royals

By the time the Kansas City Royals got on the scoreboard it was too late to make a comeback. CC Sabathia had given the Yankees seven-and-two-thirds innings of shutout baseball and Jose Veras held the shutout until Tony Pena Jr. grounded in the Royals' first and only run of the night.

Once again, the Yankees jumped on the Royals' pitching. Johnny Damon singled, Nick Swisher walked, and Jorge Posada doubled in two first-inning runs for the second straight game. In the third, the Yanks' catcher doubled in another run after Swisher tripled in captain Derek Jeter.

The Yanks did the rest of their scoring in the fifth inning when Swisher crushed a two-run jack over the left field wall.

Starting the season on the bench, Swisher has taken advantage of nearly every at-bat that Joe Girardi has bestowed upon him. In thirteen at-bats, the former Buckeye has seven hits, including two long balls and four other extra-base hits.

While the Yankee offense was putting runs on the board, Sabathia was depositing zeroes across the Royals' scoring line. There were times when Sabathia lost his control and got into trouble, but double-plays, strikeouts, or smart pitching were always there to extricate him.

The newly-acquired ace gave up six hits, hit two batters, and struck out six. Although there were a couple of innings when Sabathia struggled with his control, he finished with a quality strike-to-ball ratio of 73-to-35.

Tonight's performance probably silenced the critics on this site and throughout America that said that Sabathia was a bust and that the Yankees should be worried because of his atrocious outing on Opening Day.


The lineup has been the Yankees' consistent stalwart, producing 31 runs through the first five games of the season. Posada, Swisher, and Robinson Cano have led the offensive charge, and everyone other than Hideki Matsui and Cody Ransom has contributed.

Matsui is slumping but, as Michael Kay said tonight, he is the kind of hitter who can really carry the team. Girardi is confident that Matsui will snap out of his cold streak.

Ransom, on the other hand, is a liability at the plate. You can't expect his average of .056 to jump anytime soon. Alex Rodriguez's return could not come any sooner for the Yankees and their fans.

Jeter started five-for-eight but has recorded only one hit in his last fourteen at-bats. It's Jeter. We all know he can hit, so there is no reason to be concerned right now.

I'm liking what I'm seeing from Brett Gardner. He may be struggling at the plate, but his speed distracts opposing pitchers to the extent where they lose their ability to throw strikes. Gardner's speed is something the Yankees have not had in ages, and we have seen early what speed on the bases can do for an offense.

The next step: enhancing Gardner's ability to reach base.

Mark Teixeira was a last-minute scratch. He hurt his left wrist and could not swing a bat from the right side of the plate. Tonight's opposing starter, Horacio Ramirez, was a lefty, so Tex would have hit from the right side. He is not sure how he agitated his wrist or how serious of a problem it is.

Joba Chamberlain will be taking the mound tomorrow against Kansas City ace Gil Meche as the Yankees look to sweep the Royals.

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