Yankees-Indians: What, What? Pavano Actually Showed Up at Yankee Stadium?

KP WeeSenior Writer IApril 19, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 19:  Carl Pavano #44 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 19, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Saturday's 22-4 Cleveland win at new Yankee Stadium was a stunner.

But, as most baseball fans know, momentum depends on the next game's starting pitcher, so you'd probably expect the Yankees to kind of return the favour to the Indians on Sunday afternoon.

After all, it would be the Yankees' new ace, A.J. Burnett, going up against former Bomber bust Carl Pavano.

A.J. had gone 2-0 with a 2.70 in his first two starts with the Yanks after getting his huge contract following his breakout year in Toronto (when he went 18-10 and led the league in strikeouts) in 2008.

Meanwhile, Pavano was 0-2 with an unsightly 16.71 ERA for the Tribe. (Hey, at least it was better than Chien-Ming Wang's 34.50 ERA!) This was coming off that disastrous nine-win stint (over four years) with the Yankees, who had foolishly given him a $39.95 million contract.

It was Pavano's first outing against the Yankees since New York cut ties with him. Coming off two straight subpar appearances for Cleveland this season and with the Yankee Stadium crowd booing his every move, surely you'd expect Pavano to get absolutely slaughtered.

So, who knew Pavano would actually outpitch A.J.?

Indeed, Pavano set down the first 10 batters while the Indians hit two homers off Burnett, giving Carl a 3-0 lead.

With the score 3-1 for Cleveland, the Tribe failed to tack on even more runs off Burnett. A.J. threw two wild pitches in the seventh and loaded the bases, but reliever Jonathan Albaladejo got out of the jam.

Cleveland manager Eric Wedge removed Pavano from the game with the score still 3-1, and the Yankees immediately exploded, scoring six runs in the seventh and eighth innings to take a 7-3 advantage.

Amazingly, in that hostile environment, Pavano was able to pitch well, giving up just four hits in his six innings of work.

A.J., on the other hand, didn't pitch well, giving up seven walks in 6 1/3 innings.

Still, none of that mattered in the end.

The Yankees still won.

If the Bombers hadn't rallied, who knows what the papers in New York would be saying on Monday? (For the record, after the 22-4 debacle, the headlines in the Post included "Stinkees" and the Daily News had "Wang is garbage" and "YOU STINK" on its cover. Classic!)

But for the first six innings on Sunday afternoon, the New York writers must have been ready for more derogatory headlines. For the first six innings, Yankees fans must have been worried. And wondering why this Pavano didn't show up during those four miserable years when he got that $39.95 million contract.

For one game, Carl Pavano actually showed up.

An absolute stunner indeed.