Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Verlander-Sabathia II

CC Sabathia eats his glove.
A few observations on Monday's Tigers-Yankees game:

*The TBS crew seems startled at how Justin Verlander geared up the velocity for the final couple batters of the game. Their amazement merely underlined how little they know about Verlander in particular, and -- here I extrapolate a bit -- probably about baseball outside the New York Boston axis.

Velander ALWAYS does this. In fact, it's the surest way to know that he's in his final inning. For that last out, he's leaving nothing in the tank. He opens the game throwing low 90s, dials it up to 100 or more when he's in a jam, throttles it back down when not in trouble -- and lets it all out for the final few pitches.

*Maybe it's just me, but CC Sabathia looked fatter than ever. Perhaps I've mainly seen him in the (slimming) home pinstripes this year, but man, in the road grays, he looked particularly blimped out.

* The beauty of that matchup is that Sabathia and Verlander appear to be the workhorses of their generation. It comes out in different ways. Sabathia is probably the most equipped current pitcher to work on short rest. Verlander hasn't done that nearly as often as Sabathia has, but he probably throws more 120-plus pitch games than anybody else -- and, as noted, holds that velocity.

* I was happy to see the Tigers use the bunt on Captain Cheeseburger, and not at all surprised that after Alex Avila missed on his first bunt attempt, Sabathia came up and in on him.  Sabathia hates it when people bunt on him, hates having to field his position and move his poundage.

* Even without his command, Sabathia is still impressive. When he needs a strikeout, he can do that; when he needs a ground ball, he can do that too. No, he didn't pitch well (neither, really, did Verlander, at least by his own standards). After a season spent watching Twins starters (and infielders) make bad situations worse, it was striking to see Sabathia and his infielders display their mastery of damage control.

*The TBS boys were surprised to see Sabathia pitch at all in the sixth; they figured he was done after five. On the surface, I agreed. But here's the thing: Sabathia's shortest outing in 2011 was 5.6 innings (once in April, once in September). Joe Girardi expects more than five-and-fly from the big man. He didn't get it Monday, and today he's counting on A.J. Burnett, which is something he probably doesn't want.

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