CC Sabathia is the game’s highest-paid hurler, but David Price has pretty obviously supplanted him as the AL East’s best pitcher. Tampa Bay’s ace picked up his league-leading 18th win Friday as the Rays topped the Yankees 6-4.
Price allowed two runs in seven innings to become the AL’s first to 18 victories. Sabathia gave up four runs in 6 2/3 innings to drop to 13-6. The Yankees have lost each of his last four starts.
The Yankees did make a late charge in the eighth, when Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off Joel Peralta to make it a 5-4 game. The typically reliable Peralta then exited with a man on first and one out, with Rays manager Joe Maddon asking Fernando Rodney to get five outs. That’s exactly what happened, as Rodney allowed just one batter to reach via a walk. The Rays got an insurance run on an Eduardo Nunez error in the top of the ninth.
Rodney’s save was his 43rd of the season. He has an insane 0.66 ERA through 68 innings.
Sabathia won his first start after returning from a brief DL stint last month, but he’s 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA in four starts since. Tonight’s outing was the first in the last five in which he didn’t give up a homer. He’s allowed a career-high 21 homers in 176 innings for the season after allowing 17 homers in 237 1/3 innings last year.
The win leaves the Rays three behind the Yankees in the AL East. They’ll also pick up a game on either Baltimore or Oakland tonight, since those two are playing each other.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.