Does CC Sabathia "know how to win?"

Leave a comment

The Daily News’ John Harper and Joe Girardi play the Jack Morris card in regards to CC Sabathia:

Sabathia gave the Yankees something of a Jack Morris game Sunday night, at least by the pitch-count limits of today’s game, going 6-2/3 innings, allowing four runs, three earned. Along the way he had to overcome a couple of Robinson Cano errors, but most importantly, he held a lead from the third inning on, didn’t walk anyone, and threw 118 pitches to get the game to Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera.

“I think the great pitchers know how to do that,” Joe Girardi said afterward. “The great ones don’t relinquish the lead. They know how to pitch to the score and win the game, and CC is one of those guys.”

Look, I love CC Sabathia, and even though he beat my Braves in Game 7 of 1991 and was kind of a jerk the one time I met him in person, I have a soft spot in my heart for Jack Morris because he was the ace of the team I loved when I was a little kid. But please, can’t we finally do away with the whole “knows how to win” and “pitches to the score” argument?  The notion that Jack Morris intentionally “pitched to the score” and had some preternatural ability to win that was separate and apart from his run support has been discredited multiple times (here’s one of the better examples).

Jack Morris was a good, not great pitcher who benefited from some very good offenses in Detroit in the 1980s.  Sabathia has been great, but for the most part this season has been merely good, and last night was a great example of it.  Solid. Professional. As always, tough.  But his win had way more to do with the five dingers the Yankees hit off of Josh Beckett than any sort of hoodoo or gumption he has that no one else has.

What kills me about the “he just knows how to win” line is that, as is the case here, it’s almost always uttered by writers and managers and people who are very big on talking about how teams, not individuals, win games.  Why then, can’t they acknowledge that when a pitcher wins a game with eight runs behind him, it has more to do with the team than with whatever winner’s magic he is supposed to possess?

Watch: Christian Yelich continues to make a case for NL MVP repeat

Christian Yelich
AP Images
5 Comments

Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.

The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.

While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.

Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.

It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.