CC Sabathia hardly delivered an ace-like performance last night, but fortunately for him, his offense was there to pick him up. On the strength of a five-run fifth inning, the Yankees defeated the Orioles 8-5 at Yankee Stadium and remain very much alive in the AL Wild Card race.
Miguel Gonzalez failed to get an out in that fifth inning, as he gave up a go-ahead three-run homer to Ichiro Suzuki and then loaded the bases before giving way to T.J. McFarland, who allowed a two-run single to Robinson Cano. Sabathia allowed five runs over 5 2/3 innings before being pulled and has failed to complete seven innings in eight out of his last nine starts. The Yankees need that trend to change if they hope to make a series run in October.
The Yankees (71-63) now sit 4 1/2 games behind the Rays for the second Wild Card spot while the Orioles (71-62) are four back. The two clubs will meet again this afternoon when Scott Feldman pitches for Baltimore and Ivan Nova starts for New York.
Your Friday box scores:
Phillies 6, Cubs 5
Royals 2, Blue Jays 3
Mets 3, Nationals 2
Indians 2, Tigers 7 (7 innings- rain)
Cardinals 0, Pirates 5
White Sox 3, Red Sox 4
Marlins 1, Braves 2
Twins 3, Rangers 2
Angels 5, Brewers 0
Reds 6, Rockies 9
Mariners 7, Astros 1
Giants 1, Diamondbacks 0
Rays 3, Athletics 4
Padres 2, Dodgers 9
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: