The Melkman Delivers After Sabathia Falters

It took most of the day, but the Yankees walked off with an 8-7 win on Wednesday

Here's a preview of tomorrow's headlines today -- What's wrong with CC Sabathia?

The $161 million man gave up six runs in six and two-thirds innings today, his third non-quality start out of four on the young season, and his ERA now stands at an ungainly 4.81. It's time to hit the panic button! 

That's not the right read on today's game, however. The correct analysis is that Joe Girardi needs to do a better job of using his bullpen. Sabathia wasn't very good today, but the Yankees led 7-5 entering the sixth inning when Girardi sent Sabathia back out to the mound. He gave up an infield single and then walked a batter, his pitch count was rising, Girardi had two relievers ready in the pen and, as we've established, Sabathia wasn't pitching particularly well. So why did he leave Sabathia in for three more batters?

Girardi has to go to the pen in that spot, even if it risks the tabloid second-guess that he should have stuck with his starter, because that's why you have a bullpen in the first place. He can mix and match all he wants to get the three outs, because he has Brian Bruney and Mariano Rivera to pitch the eighth and ninth and an off day earlier, but he's got to do a better job of realizing when the time is right to make a move.

Girardi's been pretty bad with the bullpen all season, including Sabathia's last start against the Indians, and he needs to either start trusting his bullpen or pester Brian Cashman to make moves for people he does trust. Joe Torre had the same trust issues and it ruined Yankee pens for years.

Here's the silver lining, though. If Girardi's issue was a lack of confidence, his relievers did a lot to earn it this afternoon. After Sabathia gave up two runs to tie the game at seven, the Yankee pen pitched six and one-third scoreless innings to set up Melky Cabrera's game-winning homer in the bottom of the 14th inning. It was Melky's second of the day, which may earn him a few more at-bats at the expense of the ailing Hideki Matsui.

Now it's off to Boston for the first salvos in this season's war with the Red Sox.

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