CC Sabathia: New York Yankees Ace Wins AL Best of the Night Award
The New York Yankees have enjoyed truly excellent starting pitching in the month of June, but staff ace CC Sabathia wasn't joining in the fun all that much before Monday night. He had allowed a total of nine earned runs in his three June starts, with the other four Yankees starters combining to allow just 14 in 12 starts.
So strangely enough, Sabathia went into his start against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night with something to prove. There was some (not a lot, mind you) pressure on him to show that he didn't deserve to be called the weak link in the Bombers' starting rotation.
Challenge accepted. And ultimately, mission accomplished.
Sabathia ended up putting together his best start of the 2012 season on Monday night. He went the distance, allowing just two earned on seven hits and a walk. He struck out 10 Braves hitters and racked up 13 ground-ball outs to lead the Yankees to an easy 6-2 victory.
Inducing more grounders was a big part of the plan for Sabathia heading into Monday's start. As the New York Daily News tells the story, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild (who very much deserves a raise, by the way) noticed that Sabathia was being inconsistent with his sinker because of a minor flaw in his delivery. He and Rothschild worked things out in between starts, and the results speak for themselves.
The sinker wasn't the only pitch working for Sabathia against the Braves. If you go and watch the video highlights of his start over at MLB.com, you'll notice that all 10 of his strikeouts had something in common:
They all came on Sabathia's slider.
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According to ESPN Stats & Information, the last time Sabathia racked up as many as 10 strikeouts with his slider was in 2006. To boot, Sabathia now leads the majors with 69 slider strikeouts.
Just a littler water cooler fodder for you, in case you were looking to impress the guys at work.
Sabathia wasn't the only New York pitcher who threw a complete game on Monday night. Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey also spun a complete game, blanking the Baltimore Orioles on just one hit and 13 strikeouts to run his record to 11-1.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN.com), Monday night marked the first time in baseball history that a Yankee and a Met had both pitched complete games with 10-plus strikeouts. Moreover, it was also the first time since 1900 that two New York pitchers accomplished that feat on the same day.
Not surprisingly, B/R National League guru Ian Casselberry gave Dickey today's NL "Best of the Night" award for his mastery of the Orioles. That honor is well warranted seeing as how, you know, Dickey is the first pitcher since 1900 to throw back-to-back one-hitters with 10 or more strikeouts and everything.
Sabathia wasn't quite as dominant as Dickey on Monday, but he was certainly dominant enough to earn today's AL "Best of the Night" award. After watching him pitch the way he did on Monday, I suspect he may have another one of these in his future.
Or two. Or three. Or four. Or...well, you get it.
Weak link? Yeah, right.
If you ever want to nominate somebody for American League "Best of the Night" honors, hit me up on Twitter.
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