In six tries, CC Sabathia had never defeated Tampa's David Price. One imagines that was a bit of a bee in his bonnet (Sabathia is an avid bonnet-wearer), and perhaps crossed his mind at his most vulnerable moment on the mound last night. It was at that moment — two on, two out in the seventh inning, with just two unearned runs against him on the evening — that Sabathia unleashed his fury and just razed B.J. Upton with three consecutive strikes to end the inning. That burst of dominance got him out of his toughest spot of the game, and it probably saved Eduardo Nuñez — whose errors at third in place of Alex Rodriguez allowed those runs — from receiving some icy glares in the locker room later. Yet another splendid, lengthy (eight-inning) start by Sabathia won New York the series against the rival Rays, earned CC his first defeat of Price, and saved Joe Girardi from having to make any tough decisions.
Those eight innings of work meant that Girardi could just turn to Rafael Soriano to close. Soriano did just that, giving up one run, but still capitalizing on his first save opportunity since Mariano Rivera went down. Girardi had established that David Robertson — having thrown quite a few pitches in the previous two and been battered in Wednesday's ninth-inning collapse — wouldn't get the call last night, and Sabathia made it so that decision didn't really get tested. Some much-needed production from the meat of the order didn't hurt, either. Robinson Cano's two-run bomb put the Yankees ahead in the fifth inning, and Alex Rodriguez (2-4 with a double) had a solid night as the DH as well.
So, that bullpen situation isn't any firmer — Soriano made an okay case for himself as closer — but with Sabathia on the mound and the likes of Cano finally starting to heat up, it didn't especially matter last night.