CC Gets By With Help From His Friends

Three homers and a replay help Sabathia snap losing skid.

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Aug 19, 2011  |  Updated 7:28 AM EDT
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No replays needed on Jones's blast.

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Someone up there has a pretty good sense of humor.

How else can you explain the Yankees finding themselves looking at a replay of a home run in the first inning of Thursday night's game after a full day of discussion about the umpires botching one the night before in Kansas City? 

The umpires ruled that Justin Morneau put the Twins up 2-0 against CC Sabathia on a drive down the right field line, but Joe Girardi disagreed and came out to argue/give everyone watching the game a sense of deja vu.

Things worked out for Girardi this time as the umpires checked the video and ruled Morneau's blast went foul.

Ron Gardenhire, who doesn't share Girardi's willingness to blindly believe whatever umpires tell him, got ejected arguing the call and Sabathia dodged a pretty big bullet in his effort to avoid three straight losses.

He would wind up doing just that in an 8-4 Yankee win that ended the losing streak if not the floating concerns about the state of his game. Sabathia gave up four runs and 10 hits over seven innings, an uneven perfromance that would not have gotten the job done without that help from the umps or some heavy lifting by the lineup.

The Yankees hit three home runs on Thursday, none more impressive than Andruw Jones' moonshot into the upper deck in the top of the fifth inning. Jones has been on a tear since the All-Star break, one that continued with Thursday's blast and one that makes the Yankees offense much more dangerous against lefty starters.

And in support of lefty starters, for that matter. Sabathia needed that support on Thursday, although there were signs that he could be back to his dominant self before too much longer.

Sabathia struck out nine and walked just one while cruising through the middle innings of the game.

He struggled in the first two innings and barely escaped the seventh, but retired 12 of 15 hitters between those rough patches and flashed strong stuff all night long.

Even when he was dealing, he wasn't quite as sharp as he was during his terrific July run. Too many balls were up in the zone, although not as many as in his last two starts and his slider looked much better this time around. 

All pitchers have difficult stretches over the long season. The good news about Sabathia's is that he doesn't look fatigued, a concern when you've gone as many miles as he has over the last three seasons.

Also good news? The Yankees have a pretty good offense to help him through the rough times and there are still a few umpires left who know the rules and apply them correctly.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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