CC Flirts With No-No As Yankees Sting Rays 10-0

GAME 5
YANKEES 10, RAYS 0

CC Sabathia’s date with no-hit destiny will have to wait for another day, but the big left-hander threw a masterpiece on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays just the same.
Sabathia pitched 7 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball and settled for a combined two-hit shutout with David Robertson while the New York Yankees’ hitters were carving up the Rays for a 10-0 victory at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.
Robinson Cano led the air assault on the Rays with a two-run home run to ignite the scoring in the fourth and an RBI single in the ninth for three RBIs.
Sabathia (1-0) earned his first victory of the season. Rookie right-hander Wade Davis (0-1) took the loss in his first start of the season.
Both teams are now 3-2 on the young season.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Sabathia was lights out. He faced 26 batters, retired the first 12, walked only two, struck out five and allowed only four balls to reach the outfield. He was four outs away from his first career no-hitter when Kelly Shoppach lined a 0-1 fastball into left field for a single. Manager Joe Girardi removed him from the game at that point.
  • The defense behind Sabathia was scintillating. Sabathia himself stopped a hot grounder off the bat of Carl Crawford in the fourth inning. In addition there was: (1) Mark Teixeira’s full-out leaping dive to his right to catch Jason Bartlett’s soft liner to end the sixth, (2) Alex Rodriguez’s diving grab to his right and throw to first to nip a speedy B.J. Upton to end the seventh and (3) Robinson Cano’s all-out charge to grab a grounder Sabathia had tipped with his left hand and his rocket throw to retire Willie Aybar to begin the eighth.
  • Cano’s 2-for-5 afternoon raised his batting average to .381 on the season. If there are any doubters about moving him to the No.5 spot in the batting order, chew on this: He also leads the team in RBIs with six.
  • There has been a Mark Teixeira sighting. Teixeira woke up after extending his season hitless streak to 0-for-17, a career worst. He walked in the fourth, he hit a RBI double in the fifth, he singled in the eighth and added a bizarre single in the ninth. More about the bizarre single later in The Negatives.
  • Brett Gardner ran amok most of the day at the plate. He was 2-for-4, walked, singled twice, scored twice, drove in two runs and stole a base. After a terrible spring, Gardner is now hitting .385 on the season.
  • Francisco Cervelli played in his first game of the season and nearly called a no-hitter. So that, in and of itself, is excellent. But Cervelli also blasted a key two-run double in the eighth inning that made the score 8-0.
THE NEGATIVES

  • There weren’t many things to criticize but there were a few bad base-running problems in this game: (1) Rodriguez was cut down easily trying to steal in the second inning, (2) Curtis Granderson did not slide at home in the sixth inning and was tossed out at the plate by Crawford and (3) Nick Johnson inexplicably stopped at second on a ball off the wall hit by Teixeira in the ninth. Teixeira was left hung out to dry and was tagged out in a rundown between second and first.
  • Gardner started to dive to catch Shoppach’s sinking liner in the eighth and backed off. Come on, Brett! I am only teasing. On an indoor hard-surface turf field there was no reason for Gardner to injure himself to preserve the no-hitter.
  • Derek Jeter hit into a inning-ending double play with two on and one out in the third. At that point Davis had pitched to one batter over the minimum and struck out three. Davis was making the Yankee hitters look bad up to that point.
  • Robertson came close to spoiling the shutout by entering the game in the eighth with Shoppach at first when he balked him to second. He retired Gabe Kapler to end the inning. Robertson also gave up a double with two outs in the ninth to Ben Zobrist but he got pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro to bounce out to third to end the game.
DIAMOND NOTES

Kelly Shoppach’s hit on Sabathia’s 111th pitch actually saved manager Joe Girardi some criticism. Girardi revealed after the game that he was taking Sabathia out after eight innings whether he had the no-hitter or not. Girardi said he had reached his pitch limit.  . . .  The last no-hitter in Yankee history was David Cone’s perfect game on July 18, 1999. Girardi was the catcher in that game.  . . .  The last major-league no-hitter was Mark Buerhle’s perfect game on July 23, 2009. The opponent that dat was the Tampa Bay Rays.  . . .  Though the 29,892 in attendance harbored a huge contingent of Yankee fans, if you listen carefully to the soundtrack of the ovation Sabathia received as he left the mound in the eighth, you can actually hear a lot of boos from Rays fans. This shows that the cowbell-ringing brethren represent one of the least mature and enlightened baseball crowds you ever will experience at a game. These are the fans who come more to boo the Yankees than to cheer for the Rays. . . .  Rodriguez’s single in the second inning was his 1,000th hit as a Yankee. He is the 39th player in team history to reach that plateau.  . . .  If the Rays hope to compete in the AL East they better do something about their bullpen. Former Yankee left Randy Choate and Mike Ekstrom combined to pitch 1 2/3 innings of relief and gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks. That is a combined ERA of 32.39. Ouch!
THE NEXT GAME

Now that the Yankees have handed the upstart Rays a bitter dose of Yankee reality on Saturday, the 2010 World Champions will go for the series win on Sunday. Right-hander A.J. Burnett will pitch for the Yankees. He will be opposed by Rays’ ace James Shields. 
Last season, Burnett was 4-0 with 1.97 ERA against the Rays. Shields is 1-7 with a 6.00 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time is 1:40 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast locally on the YES Network and nationally by TBS.

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