CC Lacks Command, But Jorge’s Grand
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on August 15, 2011.
Another solid start by Phil Hughes and a grand slam by Jorge Posada punctuated the Yankees’ rain-shortened series against the Tampa Bay Rays this past weekend. The two teams split the series, and with the Boston Red Sox unexpectedly losing their series to the Seattle Mariners, the Yanks find themselves a mere half game out of first place in the American League East.
The series did not start out well for the Yankees on Friday night. It was a battle of the aces—CC Sabathia against David Price—but only Price pitched like one. Sabathia gave up five solo home runs, a career high, resulting in a 5-1 loss for the Yanks. It was Sabathia’s second straight loss. The first one was to the Red Sox and historically, he has struggled against those two teams.
Despite his last two starts, Sabathia seemed unconcerned about any lasting problems. “I felt great today,” he said. “The velocity was there…It’s just one of those things.” He also gave credit to his venerable opponents, saying, “They put good swings on balls down the middle.”
Manager Joe Girardi agreed that there was nothing to worry about. “I didn’t think he had his great fastball command tonight, and I think that’s probably what led to some of the trouble,” he said.
The Yankees fared much better on Saturday. Phil Hughes started, knowing full well that every start he makes is under a microscope. He rose to the occasion, giving up only two runs and four hits in six innings, leading the Yanks to a 9-2 win. Hughes will make at least one more start, since Freddy Garcia cut his finger in a freak accident involving a kitchen knife. Garcia is expected to miss only one start, and Girardi was vague about whether Hughes would continue to start if Garcia doesn’t need to miss any more time.
The real underdog story of the day belonged to Jorge Posada. The veteran has struggled to find his niche on the team this season, since catching duties have been split between Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli, and his offensive productivity has taken a nosedive. In May Posada notoriously took himself out of the lineup right before a game against the Red Sox. After that incident, he had been hitting much better until recently, and just last week, Girardi took him out of the starting lineup due to his lack of production against right-handed pitchers. Posada’s start as the designated hitter on Saturday was his first in almost a week.
In the fifth inning, Posada came up with the bases loaded against pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, against whom Girardi liked Posada’s chances. Posada blasted his tenth career grand slam and blew the game wide open. He went 3-5 with six RBIs, and teammates said it was great to see Posada smile.
“I’m extremely happy,” said Derek Jeter. “He’s been working extremely hard, and he had a huge day.”
Girardi commented that Posada would be in the lineup on Sunday, but the game was postponed due to rain. The game will most likely be made up when the Rays come back into town in late September.
Beleaguered pitcher A.J. Burnett will start for the Yanks tonight against the Kansas City Royals. No word yet on whether or not Posada will be in the lineup, but his performance on Saturday shined straight through the rainout.
YANKEE FUN FACT: Posada has the sixth most grand slams in Yankee history, with ten. Lou Gehrig has the most with 23. Our guess is he won’t pass Gehrig, but he needs one more to tie former teammate Bernie Williams.