Sabathia solid as Yanks shut down Tigers, 7-0

Richard L. Shook, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia has been under scrutiny recently because his fastball has only been topping out around 91 mph.
On Sunday that didn't matter as the 6-foot-7 lefty, mostly working in the 89-91 mph range, went seven innings in a 7-0 Yankees win over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Sabathia spotted his fastball around the corners of the plate, work in changeups that were down in the strike zone and flashed his curveball around the edges of the strike zone with precision.
"He pitched with good command," Yankees' manager Joe Girardi said.
The victory was New York's first victory over Detroit in the last seven meetings, including the Tigers' four-game sweep of the Yankees in last year's American League Championship Series.
"His changeup was really effective," Girardi said. "Especially early. He gave up a couple of walks, but he was able to pitch around the middle of their order. I said before that you have to make good pitches. And he made good pitches."
Only 68 of Sabathia's 114 pitches were counted as strikes, but by keeping the ball away from the hot zones and working against trends, he was able to stay ahead of the game.
"I felt I pitched good," Sabathia said after evening his record at 1-1. "My fastball command was a lot better. I had a good changeup early. That 3-0 lead allowed me to be more aggressive with my fastball in the later innings."
Sabathia left the game with a little fist-pumpafter the seventh after striking Austin Jackson out on a 3-2 breaking ball.
"I was upset with myself," Sabathia said. "I went 3-2 on every batter in the seventh when I was trying pitch deeper into the game, take a little pressure off our bullpen."
Sabathia, who appears to be some 20-30 pounds lighter than a year ago, bested Detroit ace Justin Verlander with the help of shortstop Jayson Nix, who was subbing for the injured Eduardo Nunez.
Nix went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.
A leadoff walk and one-out RBI double by Francisco Cervelli broke a scoreless tie in the second. The runs were the first Verlander has allowed in his two starts this season. He is now 1-1.
"If he could have one pitch back, the one to Nix, it might have been different," Detroit manager Jim Leyland of Detroit said after Nix homered to deep left in the second. "I know he questioned the selection and the execution. But then he settled down, gave us a chance to win. But we couldn't do much with CC. It just shows how pitching can dictate things."
"That was big," Girardi said, "especially considering who he hit it off."
Cervelli had an RBI single in the eighth after reliever Phil Coke gave up two hits and a sacrifice fly to Ichiro Suzuki.
Kevin Youkilis added a two-run single for the Yankees in the ninth.
The crowd of 39,892 at Comerica Park was not a sellout for the first time in the home-opening series, but the three-game total of 127,333 marked Detroit's largest for its first three home games since 1948, when Cleveland and Detroit drew 135,768 to Tiger Stadium.
NOTES: Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda should be able to make his scheduled start Monday in Cleveland, Girardi said. "He's a go, unless something happens." ... Leyland had some sympathy for Matt Tuiasosopo, sending him to left field at Comerica Park on a windy day for his first start. "There's going to be a 25 mph wind out there," Leyland said. "Here's the map and the keys, and good luck, buddy." ... Velocity is overrated, Girardi said in response to increasing scrutiny of a fastball that Sabathia is only getting up to 91 mph early in the season. "It comes down to location," Girardi said. "If he's pitching well, no one gets caught up in velocity. If a guy is heavy and winning, no one gets caught up in his weight. You have to make quality pitches." ... Detroit had just one lefty reliever, Coke, available to pitch Sunday against a left-heavy New York lineup. Leyland was holding out lefties Drew Smyly, who worked four innings Friday, and Darin Downs, who worked two Saturday. ... Nunez tested his sore right biceps Sunday and said he was not yet ready to return to the lineup. "He feels better," Girardi said, "but he said he's just not ready to go. He tried to swing and throw. He'll try again Monday." Nunez, who pinch-ran Sunday, was hit by a pitch in the right biceps on Friday. Nix has replaced him in the field. ... Rivera was honored by the Tigers in a pregame ceremony. He was given containers of dirt from the mounds at Comerica Park and Tiger Stadium flanking pictures of him in action against Detroit. "I thought that was really neat," Girardi said, "dirt from both places."

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