In case one took New York Yankees starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia’s performance in his last two starts as a signal to interrupt the engraving of the epitaph of his career, the way in which he pitched against the Baltimore Orioles gave one every reason to resume the work. It would seem that Sabathia was merely experiencing a brief interlude in his pitching struggles and once the interlude ended, he was back to his former tricks of being eminently hittable and a liability for the Yankees. Unfortunately for the Yankees in their attempts to triumph over their division rival and maintain a lead over the division, Sabathia’s poor pitching was just a part of the ineffectiveness of the Yankees rotation on Saturday, a collective effort of mediocrity that sentenced the Yankees to a 9-4 defeat at the hands of the Orioles.
Sabathia was due to give up a home run on Saturday; that much was clear just going off the staggering amount of long balls he has surrendered during his appearances this season. Sabathia had given up a home run in seven of his 12 starts previous to Saturday’s so he is always a heavy betting favorite to surrender one in any outing, and he did not disappoint during his latest start. He even gave up more home runs than one might have expected given just how short his tenure on the mound was and just how few fly balls that he conceded. In his 5.0 innings of work, Sabathia surrendered eight hits with two of them being home runs that accounted for all four of the runs he was charged with; each of the home runs was a two-run blast. Even for Sabathia, who has displayed a penchant for serving up pitches that can be launched into the stratosphere, it was a performance beneath his already low standards.
If Sabathia had been the only Yankees pitcher to concede runs at an alarming rate on Saturday, then the Yankees might have stood a chance, but Sabathia was just the beginning and not the end of the Yankees’ pitching woes in the contest. After Sabathia had let the Orioles hitters stage a home run derby against him, it was time for reliever Chris Martin to enter the game and make sure a Yankees’ win became an increasingly unlikely proposition. Needing just 1.0 inning with which to doom the Yankees’ win probability, Martin surrendered three runs in the sixth inning after giving up four hits and throwing three wild pitches; the final wild pitch came after the Orioles had already seized a 7-4 advantage.
Wrapping up the Yankees’ lackluster day on the mound was reliever Sergio Santos, who really brought the defeat home by giving up two runs in the seventh inning off of a solo home run and two doubles. Because the loss had already been wrapped up before Santos even took the mound, the two runs were really just the bow on top, but Santos still did nothing to redeem the Yankees’ pitching with his performance.
Because of the way in which the three Yankees pitchers were freely giving out runs on Saturday, they managed to overshadow the exploits of the Yankees offense, who put on quite a show with a pretty good offensive showing. Their four runs came off a strong hitting line of .297 BA/.333 OBP/.514 SLG/.365 wOBA as they demonstrated prolific power, with the biggest hit coming in the sixth inning when Alex Rodriguez connected with a two-run home run in the sixth inning that was worth an additional .250 win probability and briefly tied the game at 4-4. But due to the pitching problems, it increasingly became obvious that the Yankees hitters’ best efforts were all futile.
After the Yankees reeled off seven straight wins to begin the month of June, it was only a matter of time before they were cooled off, and the cooling process continued on Saturday as the Yankees suffered their third consecutive defeat to drop them into a tie with the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League East division lead. A few more performances like they have had of late where their pitchers cannot be trusted to prevent runs and the Yankees might find themselves looking up at one of their division brethren in the standings.