The Yankees are so dominant against the Orioles, having won 17 of their past 19 meetings in the Bronx, that you could say they probably could beat Baltimore with one hand tied behind their back.
Sometimes the Yankees wish CC Sabathia would try fielding that way.
The pitcher provided a rare moment of high drama when he flagged Adam Jones' hot one-hopper with his pitching hand in the fifth inning of an otherwise breezy 6-3 win. Manager Joe Girardi led a parade out of the dugout (followed by the pitching coach and a trainer) to see if Sabathia was all right, given that he had thrown wildly to first baseman Mark Teixeira.
Everyone in the Yankees' orbit was on the edge of his or her seat, even if they were standing. "It's definitely scary, especially with how important that left hand is, not only to him but to the team and to our season," said Brett Gardner, who was in leftfield at the time. "I'm sure that's something they're going to keep getting on him about, but it's just reflex. It probably won't be the last time we see it."
No problem. As Sabathia told it later, "It actually went numb when I threw the ball to Tex, but after that, it felt good." He said he was in no pain afterward. In fact, it was a generally painless day for the Yankees in all sorts of ways.
Sabathia (5-3) won for the first time in exactly a month (his win on May 3 was against guess who). Alex Rodriguez and Gardner hit home runs off starter Kevin Millwood (0-6). Curtis Granderson (2-for-4) and Jorge Posada (1-for-4) looked healthy after stays on the disabled list. The Yankees finished their homestand 6-1, having taken full advantage of the Indians' and Orioles' frailty.
"I liked what I saw from Jorgie, I loved what I saw from Grandy. It helps because it makes our lineup more complete," Girardi said. "Six-and-one is a good homestand."
Any homestand that includes the word "Baltimore" on the schedule is a potential feast. The Orioles have lost eight straight to the Yankees, including all three this week. They did provide some drama of their own, what with a report Thursday from The Baltimore Sun that Dave Trembley might have been managing his final game. He still was around late in the afternoon to say, "We didn't do enough against CC."
Those words were music to the Yankees' ears, given the ace's past month. Girardi said he had been struggling with minor mechanical problems, especially with his sinker and changeup, but seemed to have them cleared up yesterday. Pitching coach Dave Eiland said, "He's very close."
Close, that is, to being outstanding. He allowed one hit (a solo homer by Jones) and no walks through 61/3 of his seven innings and said it was just a matter of making his pitches.
Most pivotal were the warm-ups in the fifth after the barehanded stop as he shook off the numbness and convinced Girardi to keep him in the game. "I'm sure Robbie would have made the play," Sabathia said, referring to second baseman Robinson Cano, who drove in the second run with a double to deep center. "But it's just one of those things."
"It's instinct," said Joba Chamberlain, who pitched a flawless eighth. "You're not really thinking about it. You want to get the play, you want to make the out. You're not thinking about it until the play is over."
"You cringe every time a guy does it," Girardi said. "It's a good thing he's got big mitts."