Today is September 23 and obviously the big story is the matchup between CC Sabathia and David Price.
The last time this matchup occurred it became a phenomenal game. On Sept. 13 at Tampa Bay, the Rays took a 1-0 victory decided in the 11th inning on a Reid Brignac home run off Sergio Mitre.
Sabathia went eight innings and allowed two singles while issuing two walks and nine strikeouts. Price also went eight and allowed three base hits while issuing two walks and striking out four.
Last year they faced each other on the final weekend of the season in a series that had little consequence. Like the start on Sept. 13, Sabathia was denied his 20th win as he allowed nine runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings. Price ended 2009 at 10-7 by allowing one run and two hits in seven innings.
Earlier that year, at Yankee Stadium on June 6, neither pitched great, winding up with no-decisions. Sabathia went eight innings, allowing four earned runs and five hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Price went 5 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run and two hits to go along with five walks and three strikeouts.
Of course Sabathia when asked about the matchup, he said he was facing the Rays’ lineup and not Price. In fact, while he knows the score, he is not really watching what Price is throwing and monitoring his pitch selection.
Price and Sabathia also text back-and-forth but it is not about baseball, usually just idle chit-chit like the kind you’d have with of your friends on instant messager.
As for Price, he offered a comment yesterday, saying: “What do they have seven Hall-of-Famers?
It was similar to Game 1 of the 2006 ALDS when Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland referred to the Yankees as "Murderers’ Row and Cano".
Of course that proved to be a ploy as the Tigers blew the Yankees away in four.
Also, today has a three-way AL CY Young race going on. Before Sabathia and Price met, Felix Hernandez was going for win No. 13 this afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hernandez is an interesting case for some, especially for those not believing that wins are the end all and since Zach Greinke won the award in 2009 with 16 wins. The argument is a compelling one since he has some incredible numbers for a team that ranks last in the AL in hits, runs, second-to-last in home runs, OPS and on-base percentage.
Amazingly, Hernandez was a 1-0 loser. He allowed Jose Baustista’s 50th home run and one other hit in his sixth complete game of the season and is 12-12. The number that is just as staggering is seven as in runs scored by the Mariners in those defeats and if you consider that three of his wins against the Yankees, Hernandez has somewhat of a case.
Last night or early this morning, we wrote extensively about how the Yankees kind of conceded the smaller battle to win the bigger war and that was a popular topic of discussion from manager Joe Girardi to GM Brian Cashman.
"The thing that I have the advantage of is, I’m in our clubhouse, I’m in the training room and I know what guys are going through," Girardi said. "If you went around any clubhouse players are nicked up this time of year and some are fatigued. But I have the insight to that and that’s how I make my decisions."
About a half-hour later, Cashman reiterated that belief and also praised Girardi for decisions such as resting Mark Teixeira for two games last weekend in Baltimore.
"Home field is a priority but not at the expense of having our guys at maximum abilities to compete in October," Cashman said. "I’ve been around the block enough and put the pedal to the medal in September and maybe ran out of gas."
One player who was not available regardless of what the Yankees were doing was David Robertson, who had his back lock up Monday. Cashman considers the level of concern low and expects the righty to return shortly.
About the only impressive relief performance Wednesday came from lefty Royce Ring, who struck out two in 1 2/3 innings. The Yankees will not use him tonight but would like to see more in case they elect to carry a second lefty in the postseason.
Today also happens to be Joba Chamberlain’s 25th birthday and while he was being born in Nebraska, the Yankees were 88-61 and 5 ½ behind the Blue Jays in the AL East. Fast forward 22 years, Chamberlain was on the Yankee Stadium mound in his first month in the major leagues.
That day Chamberlain closed out a 7-5 victory over Toronto for his first career save that preserved Mike Mussina’s 250th career win. It also marked a major alteration of the first version of “The Joba Rules” as manager Joe Torre said “we’re on the move with this thing.”
It was also the start of one of the never-ending debates of 2008 and 2009 that was repeated so often, it made you sometimes change the station to FM.
Finally the clubhouse is a little more crowded with the arrivals of pitchers Andrew Brackman and Delin Betances as well as catcher Jesus Montero. Brackman is on the active roster and could get into a game while the other two are here to get a taste of the scene and things like numerous media members surrounding them.
First with Betances, who is a Brooklyn product from the Grand Street Campus in Bushwick.
Standing 6-foot-8, his changeup is the pitch that some scouts have raved about, especially since it compliments a 98 mph fastball. He projects to be no worse than a third starter and his most impressive game was the playoffs against New Hampshire when he faced Kyle Drabek.
That night, Betances allowed two hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walking one and five of those strikeouts occurred with runners in scoring position.
When Betances encountered the New York media for the first time since pitching in the PSAL, he talked like someone who was extremely thrilled to be here, especially since he grew up a Yankee fan.
As for Brackman, a 2007 first-round pick, it is actually surprising he was in Double-A. He was 2-12 in the South Atlantic League last year and had an ERA over five in the Florida State League.
He possesses a big hard fastball, a devastating curveball with a good hook. Despite his high ERA from August 1 to the end of the year, the former NC State basketball player allowed six earned runs in 37 2/3 innings.
Right now, Brackman projects to be a fourth or fifth guy but as anyone who watches the game know the actual difference between Double-A and the Bronx is a lot longer than the train ride on NJ Transit or the trip up the New Jersey Turnpike and over the George Washington Bridge.