CC Sabathia strikes out 10 in complete game win over Mariners

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CC Sabathia and Russell Martin were paired together tonight for just the third time this season and the first time since April 11. We’ll likely see them work together more often the rest of the way.

Sabathia allowed three runs on three hits and a walk in a complete game 6-3 victory over the Mariners tonight at Yankee Stadium. The southpaw struck out notched 10 strikeouts. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Mariners.

Sabathia actually held the Mariners to just one run until giving up a two-run homer to Dustin Ackley in the top of the ninth. Yankees manager Joe Girardi then came out to the mound to take his temperature, but the big southpaw stayed in the game and recorded the final three outs to finish off his second complete game of the season and the 35th of his career.

Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Raul Ibanez all had RBI singles in the victory while Eric Chavez added a two-run homer which just made it over the outstretched glove of Eric Thames in right field. Chavez, who is filling in for the injured Alex Rodriguez at third base, now has double-digit homers for the first time since 2007. The 34-year-old actually left the game for precautionary reasons after tweaking his ankle during an at-bat in the eighth inning, but Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that it’s not believed to be serious.

Sabathia improved to 11-3 with the victory and now holds a 3.53 ERA and 133/34 K/BB ratio over 135 innings this season.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.