10/17/09 12:43 AM EST
Yankees Short Hops: Game 1
Sabathia leads the way, Damon's bat comes to life
By Thomas Boorstein / MLB.com
An opportunistic Yankees team took advantage of three Angels errors and a dominant CC Sabathia pitching performance to strike first in the ALCS.
Johnny Damon's scoring from second on Hideki Matsui's infield popup single that fell when Angels third baseman Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar exchanged glances but not words. The miscue turned out to be the first of many for the Halos on Friday.
2: Only two Angels reached second base in Sabathia's eight innings. Vladimir Guerrero doubled and scored in the fourth inning, and Kendry Morales walked and moved to second on a groundout in the seventh. Game balls
The Yankees' ace turned in his second strong performance of the postseason in as many outings. After going 6 2/3 innings and allowing one earned run against Minnesota, Sabathia worked eight innings of one-run ball and fanned seven Angels. This performance didn't come against a weak-hitting team, either. Los Angeles was second in baseball with its franchise-record 883 runs in the regular season. Sabathia did throw 113 pitches, and that could affect his availability for Game 4 on Tuesday in Anaheim.
The Yankees' left fielder entered Friday's game in a 1-for-12 slump to start the postseason, but he got two hits and scored two runs in Game 1. He also made a sliding catch in left field to rob Bobby Abreu of an extra-base hit.
The star of the Yankees' AL Division Series sweep of the Twins picked up where he left off. His first-inning sacrifice fly scored Derek Jeter and gave New York an early lead. Rodriguez now has at least one RBI in all four postseason games. He also singled and walked, but he did run through third-base coach Rob Thomson's stop sign en route to being thrown out at the plate in the fifth.
Sense of October
With the game-time temperature at 45 degrees, all the Yankees' starters -- save Rodriguez -- wore long-sleeved undershirts. Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher had earflaps on their hats, and Robinson Cano went with a ski mask. With the decorative bunting flapping in the breeze, Yankee Stadium had a distinct autmnal feel.
4 AB, 2 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 R
Comment: Damon had a single and a two-base hit to double his postseason hits total in 2009. He also scored the team's second and third runs.
8 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 7 K's, 1 BB
Comment: Sabathia has only one walk in 14 2/3 innings this postseason after having 22 in 25 career playoff innings entering 2009.
"Pretty impressive. Pretty impressive. To be on the non-receiving end of all his pitching today, it was awesome. To go out there and play defense behind him, the way he got the crowd going -- he really got the crowd going in our favor tonight." -- Nick Swisher on Sabathia
Both teams will watch the weather forecast as they hope to play Game 2 on Saturday. If the rain holds off, A.J. Burnett could put the Yankees in the catbird seat before the series travels to Anaheim for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5.
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.