Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Homers Back CC, Yanks Crown Royals

Last night, the Yankees began a 3-game series in Kansas City against the Royals. CC Sabathia started. He'd begun the season with 4 straight good starts, but had since followed them with 4 bad ones. The Yankees needed the Big Fella to turn it around. He did. He took a shutout into the 7th inning, allowing just 5 hits and 2 walks, with 4 strikeouts.

He was backed up by home runs by Gary Sanchez in the 3rd inning (his 3rd of the season) and Chris Carter in the 4th (his 2nd). That gave him a 5-0 lead. Jacoby Ellsbury had an RBI single in the 7th, and a Matt Holliday fielder's choice brought another run home in the 8th.

Tyler Clippard pitched scoreless ball through the 8th. With a 7-run lead, there was no save situation, so the Yankees didn't need someone to step in for the injured Aroldis Chapman. Instead, pretty much any pitcher would do. Joe Girardi chose Jonathan Holder, and, while he did allow a run on 2 hits and a walk, there was no meltdown.

Yankees 7, Royals 1. WP: Sabathia (3-2). No save. LP: Jason Hammel (1-5).

The series continues tonight. Michael Pineda starts against Jonathan Vargas.

The Yankees go into the game still half a game, a full game in the loss column, ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The Boston Red Sox are 4 back, the Tampa Bay Rays 5 1/2, and the Toronto Blue Jays 8.

The Yankees still face approximately another month without Chapman. If they don't fall apart too much, and can stay within, say, 4 games of 1st place, they should be all right.

And it has to be the Division. After all, as we've seen, it's better to have the Division title than the Wild Card. Since the Wild Card was established in 1995 (well, 1994, but we know what happened that year), the Yankees are 21-8 in postseason rounds when they win the Division, and 1-5 when they don't. (The lone win being in the 2010 AL Division Series over the Minnesota Twins.)

Hopefully, by now, Girardi -- and general manager Brian Cashman -- have learned just how important winning the Division actually is.

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