After the Yankees lost five in a row — including four at the hands of the crosstown Mets — they turned to ace CC Sabathia last night to stop the bleeding. He was up to the task.
Sabathia allowed just one run over 7 1/3 innings and matched a season-high with 10 strikeouts as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 4-1 at Yankee Stadium. The big left-hander scattered six hits and didn’t walk a batter in the victory. The only run scored on an RBI double by Mike Napoli in the seventh inning.
The Yankees’ offense against Jon Lester was supplied by RBI singles from Jayson Nix, Ichiro Suzuki, the returning Kevin Youkilis, and Brett Gardner. And after going three games without a walk against the Mets, they drew four of them last night. Mark Teixeira went 0-for-3 with a walk in his season debut.
It was an encouraging performance from Sabathia, who was knocked around for a season-high seven runs last time out. While much has been made about his velocity, he threw harder last night than he had all season, topping out at just over 94 mph on his fastball.
(Hat-tip to the excellent Brooks Baseball for the velocity data)
We welcomed “Mason Saunders” into our lives on Sunday, thanks to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan. Mason Saunders is the alias of Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner when he competes in rodeos, something he’s done as recently as December (when he was still a free agent).
Given that one of Bumgarner’s other extracurricular activities, riding dirt bikes, resulted in a serious injury, many have been wondering how the Diamondbacks would react to the news that the lefty they inked to a five-year contract two months ago is roping steers in his spare time. It seems like the Diamondbacks just accept that that’s who Bumgarner is.
On Tuesday, Baggarly and Buchanan answered some frequently asked questions about the whole Bumgarner-rodeo thing. They mentioned that former Giants manager Bruce Bochy, in a radio interview on KNBR, slipped in that Bumgarner also hunts bears in his off-time. Bochy said, “You think, ‘Madison, you’re looking at signing your biggest contract ever to set yourself up for life and you’re going to risk it on the rodeo?’ But he’s got confidence. I mean there’s some stories I do know that he probably wouldn’t want me to share, with him bear hunting, and the tight situations he’s gotten himself into.”
As Baggarly and Buchanan explained, when Bumgarner — I mean, Saunders — is roping steers, he’s not taking much of a risk. They wrote, “The header and heeler don’t chase the steer around the ring. Each trial is more or less a one-shot deal and it’s over in less than 10 seconds. If the header or heeler misses on the first attempt, then no time is recorded.” Bumgarner has also said he ropes with his non-pitching hand. Hunting bears is an entirely different level of risk, one would imagine. That being said, no one seemed to be surprised that Bumgarner moonlights as a serious rodeo competitor. That’s likely also the case that he, as Bochy puts it, goes “mano a mano” against bears.