C.C. Sabathia has been the New York Yankees’ stopper all year, and that continued in Game 3 as he would lead the Bronx Bombers to an 8-1 victory to get them right back in the series.
Sabathia is now 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in starts followed by a New York loss and is the first pitcher since Whitey Ford to achieve this. This is the definition of what a stopper is supposed to be and no one would have thought Sabathia could be that coming into the season.
C.C. sets the tone
Just as he did in Game 5 of the ALDS, Sabathia set the tone for the Yankees with a shutdown first inning. Sabathia got George Springer to ground out to Todd Frazier to start the game and the rest just came to him. Sabathia would follow up the Springer at-bat by striking out Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve to get out of the inning without allowing a baserunner. Perhaps the most impressive at-bat in the inning was the Altuve’s. Altuve has been on fire against the Yankees in the first two games of the series and Sabathia shut his hot bat down as Altuve went 0 for 4 and left six men on base this evening.
There is just something about when Sabathia starts that calms the young Yankees down. His veteran presence and intensity give his teammates the utmost confidence when Sabathia takes the mound. He would gain another thing in common with Whitey Ford with his seventh straight postseason start at home allowing two earned runs or less. This also happened to be Sabathia’s first career scoreless postseason start, and it saw his postseason ERA at Yankee Stadium drop to 1.61.
Sabathia is the perfect complement to Luis Severino in the team’s rotation, though both approach hitters differently. Severino can throw off a lineup with his power fastball and sharp slider while Sabathia has to use a mixture of breaking balls and cutters to keep hitters off their game. He relies on location more than ever and it was noticeable in Game 3, getting his fastball in on right-handed batters and his slider on the corner on lefties.
Sabathia is in line to start a potential Game 7 should the Yankees get there, and they wouldn’t want anyone else to have the ball.
In a series where the Yankees have been looking for runs, Sabathia seems to get the most run support on this rotation.
The Yankees couldn’t generate a run in Game 1 of the ALDS, but gave Sabathia a 7-3 lead to work with in Game 2. Sabathia was also given a 3-0 lead in the deciding Game 5 of the series and worked well with it, allowing himself to get in a groove.
Now in Game 3 of the ALCS and the Yankees only scoring two runs in two games, Sabathia was given eight runs of support. This allowed for manager Joe Girardi to stick with him an inning later than he would have let him go if it was a 3-0 lead.
All Rise, here comes the Judge
And Sabathia didn’t do it alone tonight.
With the Astros down 3-0 and looking to get their offense going, Yuli Gurriel led off the fourth inning looking to get something started against Sabathia. Gurriel took advantage of a pitch that had too much of the plate and hit it to right field. Star outfielder Aaron Judge came out of nowhere to make a running, leaping catch and crashed into the wall while doing so. Judge saved what would have been at least a leadoff double to start the inning.
That wouldn’t be the only time Judge’s glove helped the Yankees during this one. In the fifth inning, Judge made an ever important catch with runners on first and second with Sabathia on the ropes. Judge would also make a play on a ball that was in the middle of no-mans-land with Starlin Castro and Greg Bird having a hard time finding the ball.
The young phenom would add a three-run home run in the fourth inning to break out of his struggles offensively and had an overall solid game.
New York would win it by the score of 8-1 and now find themselves right back in the series thanks to Judge’s great play, but Sabathia was the real star of the show. Their offense has finally come alive and the strong start by Sabathia helped secure at least a Game 5.
The Bronx Bombers will look to translate their success from Game 3 into Game 4 tomorrow and even the series up at two games apiece.
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