A top-notch pitching duel brought the first half to a close in the Bronx on Sunday, as the Yankees beat the Rays 1-0, with both CC Sabathia and James Shields going the distance.
It was Sabathia’s first shutout since 2009 and second as a Yankee, and he became the first pitcher to 13 victories this season.
Shields, who has three shutouts this season, had to settle for his seventh complete game in 19 starts. He fell to 8-7 despite the strong effort.
Both pitchers allowed four hits.
Earlier in the day, Shields was removed from the All-Star roster, a consequence of him pitching today, and replaced by Sabathia, who was automatically scratched as well.
The game’s one run was unearned, and it took two pretty crazy errors to score it. Robinson Cano singled to open the bottom of the seventh. After a Jorge Posada fly to shallow center, B.J. Upton tried to double Cano off first, only to throw wildly and allow Cano to advance to third. Cano then scored on a wild pickoff attempt from Shields.
(It was actually a great move from Shields; Cano had no idea it was coming and would have been out easy if the throw hadn’t sailed over Evan Longoria’s head).
The Rays’ were denied their 50th victory for the second straight day, so they’ll enter the break 49-41. The Yankees are 53-35.
The magic number to clinch a wild card spot is still 1, but the Mets have at least secured a wild card tie after defeating the Phillies 5-1 on Friday night.
Jay Bruce powered the offensive drive, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and his 33rd home run of the season, ripped from an Alec Asher fastball in the seventh inning. On the mound, right-hander Robert Gsellman limited the Phillies to seven hits and one run over six frames, striking out seven batters in his eighth appearance of the year. Behind him, a cadre of Mets relievers turned out three scoreless innings to preserve the lead and anchor the Mets in the wild card standings.
The Cardinals aren’t out of the race quite yet, and can still force a tiebreaker with the Mets if they manage to win the remainder of their games this weekend and the Mets lose the rest of theirs. Any other scenario will ensure the Mets’ exclusive rights to a wild card spot next week. While a wild card clinch is unlikely to happen tonight, with St. Louis leading Pittsburgh 7-0 through 7.5 innings and just entering a rain delay, it remains a distinct possibility over these next two days.
In a season that boasts the likes of Max Scherzer (he of the 20-strikeout masterpiece) and Clayton Kershaw (he of nine separate games with at least 10 strikeouts), there hasn’t been anyone who’s done exactly what Carlos Rodon did this week.
During Friday’s series opener against the Twins, Rodon retired seven consecutive batters via strikeout. His streak — and the beginnings of a perfect game, if you can call it that after just 2 ⅓ frames — ended on a Logan Schafer double that found right field well before Rodon managed to put up two strikes. With seven consecutive strikeouts, Rodon became the first American League pitcher to strike out seven batters to start a game since right-hander Joe Cowley did it for the Sox back in 1986. Had Schafer whiffed on a couple more fastballs, Rodon would have tied Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom for most strikeouts to start a game in major league history.
Not only did Rodon manage to quell the first seven batters in Minnesota’s lineup, but he extended his strikeout streak to 10 consecutive batters dating back through his last start against the Cleveland Indians. Per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, the last major league pitcher to do so was reliever Eric Gagne, who accomplished the feat for the 2003 Dodgers during his first and only Cy Young Award-winning season.
Any way you slice it, this is an impressive look: