51° Good Morning
51° Good Morning

CC Sabathia, Francisco Cervelli and the Mets' botched wheel play

Sorry, just the basics this morning:

At the Yankees' victory in Boston, I wrote about CC Sabathia's performance and what it means - as much as we can derive from one game, at least.

The classic question on Sabathia and the Red Sox this season has been, naturally, "Why can't he beat them?!" and all along I've believed the answer to that is, simply, "Because they're really good at hitting."

Last night further validated that Occam's Razor take. Sabathia had great stuff, as evidenced by his 10 strikeouts, but Boston nevertheless made him work very hard, and ultimately the Yankees wouldn't have succeeded if not for some quality bullpen contributions and strong defense (Brett Gardner made two good catches in the later innings).

--As for the entertaining Francisco Cervelli-John Lackey flap, I'd say - in a vacuum - that Lackey overreacted to Cervelli's post-homer celebration. And to be clear, we all know that Lackey intended to hit Cervelli.

In the bigger picture, though, there's no doubt that Cervelli annoys a high percentage of his opponents with his constant clapping and fist-pumping. I think Cervelli is a good kid with boyish exuberance; I imagine him clapping thunderously and pumping his fist vigorously whenever he successfully makes toast. But that act doesn't play well when it's performed by a backup catcher with three career home runs in 502 career major-league plate appearances.

The Yankees have tried to get Cervelli to cut that stuff back, and after the game, Joe Girardi said that he thought Cervelli has improved at it. Ultimately, though, you know that the reason the Yankees like Cervelli - how engaged he is in the game, particularly his work with pitchers - is directly tied into the first-puming and clapping. It's a running calculation for the Yankees, who are eventually going to have to decide what to do about catching prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine.

--Eventually, Joe Girardi will pare his starting rotation down to five pitchers - and then to as few as three for the AL Division Series. After Sabathia threw a season-high 128 pitches last night, however, Girardi wavered on whether that cut would occur the next turn through the rotation.

Assuming that Freddy Garcia starts Sunday, Sabathia will pitch Monday against Baltimore, thereby getting the extra day of rest. After that? Hey, if Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett both pitch respectably against the Red Sox tonight and tomorrow night - yes, it's a longshot - I'd keep going with the six. Keep all of the guys in play, and let everyone get extra rest with the playoffs not too far away.

--The Mets' winning streak ended thanks to strong pitching by Florida's Javier Vazquez and a botched wheel play by the Mets, and sure, maybe Mike Pelfrey deserved better, but his admitted error in the wheel play matches what many people say about his mental game. Like Burnett, Pelfrey does not excel in the area of mound intelligence.

--It appears the boy hit by a foul ball Monday at Citi Field will be all right, and kudos to Florida's Greg Dobbs and the Mets' Justin Turner for being so sensitive and caring.

--If Jose Reyes signs elsewhere this winter, can Ruben Tejada succeed him? I'd say yes. You obviously wouldn't get anything approaching Reyes' production, but for far fewer dollars, Tejada wouldn't embarrass you out there. And the Mets would have that saved Reyes money to spend in other areas. That is, assuming they both have that money and would be willing to spend it.

--I'll check in later from Fenway.




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