CC Sabathia managed to avoid taking any losses during the Yankees’ all too brief postseason runs in 2010 and 2011, but he couldn’t sidestep the criticism The game’s highest-paid pitcher, he was far from an ace in amassing a 5.84 ERA in 24 2/3 innings the last two Octobers.
Sabathia’s 2012 postseason got off to a much better start Sunday, as he limited the Orioles to two runs in 8 2/3 innings to pick up a win in Game 1 of the ALDS. It was the first time since the 2009 World Series that Sabathia completed seven innings in a postseason start.
Sabathia was stellar when the Yankees won the World Series in his first year with the team, going 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five starts. Still, Yankee fans have short memories, and his more recent outings in series losses to the Rangers and Tigers left them cold. He gave up six runs and walked eight in 8 2/3 innings in last year’s ALDS defeat.
For his career, Sabathia is now 8-4 in the postseason, albeit with a mediocre 4.60 ERA. He came within one out tonight of what would have been his first postseason complete game in 16 tries.
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.