The Yankees will try for the second time tonight to lock up a playoff spot, sending CC Sabathia to the mound at the Rogers Centre against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Sabathia is obviously looking for better results than his last time out, when the Rays got him for a season-high seven runs in 5 1/3 innings on Sept. 23. You get the sense that the Yankees aren’t thrilled about having to look to their Game 1 starter just to get this all done, but Joe Girardi has made his decision and he’s going with it.
Sabathia thought there was a chance he would be going Friday against the Red Sox instead to straighten out his rest for the playoffs, but as Girardi said, “You set a goal to win your division and get in the playoffs, and we’re still not there. We’ve got to keep pushing.”
Some assorted pre-game notes as the roof remains closed on another rainy day in Ontario:
- Girardi remembered facing Kyle Drabek’s father, Doug, and said that he “used to wear me out.” True: Girardi was 2-for-23 (.087) against Dad, but also remembers, “his father used to start every game with a first pitch curveball.” Something to watch, I suppose. Doug Drabek was a former Yankee, acquired in 1984 from the White Sox in exchange for Roy Smalley and traded following the 1986 season to Pittsburgh.
- Andy Pettitte is on line to pitch tomorrow. That could change if the Yankees clinch. The Yankees haven’t set their rotation for the weekend at Boston yet – same reason.
- Mariano Rivera was back at work today in the bullpen with Dave Eiland, trying to make sure he can repeat his delivery. Rivera’s available if needed.
- Stat from ESPN: Sabathia became the fourth Yankees pitcher to be the first in Baseball to 20 wins in a season since 1956. The previous three times (Bob Turley in 1958, 20-6; Whitey Ford in 1961, 20-2; and Ron Guidry in 1978, 20-2), those Yankees pitchers went on to win the Cy Young that same year and the Yankees went on to win the World Series.
- Girardi took about 15 hacks in a net drill on the field during BP, trying to see what Kevin Long has been up to with the hitters (and also to see if this is something he can do with his son, Dante). Basically, there’s a vertical net laid down the center of the plate, which makes it impossible for a hitter to do anything but pull the ball. Girardi said he finally got one out of the Rogers Centre on his last swing, a wall-scraper to left field.