See what I did there with that headline? Clever, eh? You know, because Curtis GRANDerson hit the game-winning homer? Anyone? OK, maybe not. But when 5,000 blog posts you have written, occasionally hacky too you will become. Anyway:
The Yankees came close to blowing a great opportunity just like the Red Sox did, except rather than squandering a great outing against a great pitcher, the Yankees almost squandered a poor-even-for-Dontrelle-Willis performance.
Willis walked seven guys in his two and a third innings. It was a performance that will probably get him designated for assignment within the next 24 hours, but somehow the Yankees only scored two runs off him, thanks in part to some poor fundamental baseball: Nick Swisher was caught stealing and then a botched hit and run by Cano got Teixeira nailed in the first. Why Girardi decided to start playing small ball against a human pinball machine like Willis is beyond me, but the Yankees could have scored a gajillion runs against the guy if they just played some take and rake ball.
Because of that, the game remained close. Curtis Granderson’s 10th inning homer proved to be the game-winner, but unlike most situations in which Mariano Rivera is called on to lock it down he didn’t exactly lock it down. Rather, he got himself into a bases loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the tenth. While I would say most pitchers who escape such a situation without any runs scoring got lucky, Rivera has more than earned the benefit of the doubt, so I’m gonna say he bore down or something: two pop-ups and a strikeout, game over.
A high wire act for the Yankees to be sure, but a win all the same. And with the Rays and Sox both losing, they picked up another game in the AL East.
CC Sabathia‘s contract with the Yankees expires after the 2017 season but the lefty feels that he has enough left in the tank to pitch in 2018 and beyond, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.
Sabathia said, “I just know myself. I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”
The 36-year-old lefty currently holds a 4.02 ERA and a 144/63 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 innings. It’s his best and healthiest season since 2012. He battled a knee injury last season and checked into rehab for alcohol addiction last October. Sabathia said that being treated for his addiction put him “in a good spot.”
Sabathia is owed $25 million through a vesting option for the 2017 season.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.