‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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CC Sabathia proved again Tuesday night why he deserves every bit of the record breaking contract he earned in free agency. Give him the ball and he’ll get the job done. It may not always be pretty, but Sabathia will hand over the lead to bullpen when the pressure is turned on the highest.
Teammates describe CC as a staff leader who embraces the challenge of facing top competition like the Red Sox. He thrives off adversity and going into heated battles in the unfriendly territory of Fenway Park.
Sabathia was aware of the questions asked about his difficulties against the Red Sox. Going into Tuesday’s matchup, CC was yet to record a win against Boston in his previous four appearances. He knew that he needed to get over the hump against the Red Sox not only for his own personal record but to seize the momentum of an important three-game series.
As he labored through 50 pitches in the opening two innings, it was clear that the patient Boston lineup set out to make Sabathia work as hard as possible to come out of Fenway Park with a victory. CC traded punches with their lineup over six innings as he gave up 10 hits, including a home run to Carl Crawford but was able to rack up 10 strikeouts and most importantly left the ballgame with the lead.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit. I felt I had good stuff. It’s a big win against a team that we’re chasing,” Sabathia told reporters post-game.
It’s easy to sit in awe watching Sabathia throw a complete game against last place teams that are far out of the playoff hunt. Sure, it’s impressive to see him put up terrific box scores against weak opposition but here is where CC really earns his money.
The fact is, the Yankees desperately needed him to come away with a victory Tuesday as the next two matchups in Boston aren’t favorable. Josh Beckett has the edge on Phil Hughes tonight and Thursday’s paring of A.J. Burnett and Jon Lester is as lopsided as they come. Hopefully Hughes or the Yankees’ bullpen will be able to come away with a victory tonight because I surely do not trust Burnett in a rubber game matchup against Lester.
If the Yankees go on to lose the remaining two games this series, it will be a setback but it won’t be the end of the world. Both the Bombers and the Red Sox have virtually punched their ticket to the playoffs.
The biggest statement of the series will be that CC got over the hurdle of winning a regular season game against the Red Sox at Fenway. That alone will inspire belief in the Yankees’ fan base.
What did you make of CC’s performance last night against the Red Sox? Will the victory translate to playoff success against Boston for the Yankees’ ace? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartyLFC.