NEW YORK – CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees stopped the Los Angeles Angels cold in the American League Championships Series opener.
On a blustery night more suited to bobsleds than baseballs, Sabathia pitched eight superb innings of four-hit ball to win his second straight postseason start and New York took advantage of a rare sloppy game by Los Angeles in a 4-1 victory Friday.
“It was about as cold as it gets,” Sabathia said. “It was pretty nasty out there today.”
The Angels looked like chilled Californians withering in the unseasonable wintry weather, making three errors that led to two unearned runs and allowing an infield popup to drop untouched for an RBI single. Even Torii Hunter, an eight-time Gold Glove center fielder, allowed a single to roll past him.
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“We took advantage of a couple miscues,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s one game and we know that this is going to be an extremely tough series.”
It was 45 degrees at game time, and a 17 mph wind made it feel worse. Because of the cold conditions, the traditional foul line introductions before the first game were scrapped.
Back in the ALCS for the first time in five years, New York built a 2-0 lead in the first by taking advantage of a throwing error by left fielder Juan Rivera and a popup by Hideki Matsui that fell between third baseman Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar, who each thought the other would snag it.
“It was a mistake. It was ugly, but it happens,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Angels starter John Lackey crouched and screamed in anger. The night didn’t get much better for Los Angeles, which depends on speed and didn’t attempt a single steal.
After Kendry Morales’ fourth-inning single cut the deficit in half, Matsui doubled in a run in the fifth to make it 3-1. Lackey’s throwing error on a pickoff attempt allowed Melky Cabrera to take second in the sixth, and Derek Jeter followed with a run-scoring single that got by Hunter.
Sabathia, 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his first postseason with the Yankees, gave up a double and three singles, struck out seven and walked one, going to three-balls count just twice. The crowd repeated chanted the initials of Sabathia, who may start three times in the best-of-seven series goes the full length. The big lefty showed his heightened emotion with a couple of fist pumps.
“That was a great feeling to have the stadium rocking and chanting my name,” he said.
Mariano Rivera pitched a hitless ninth for his record 36th postseason save, his second this year.
A.J. Burnett is slated to start Game 2 for the Yankees, at 4-0 the only unbeaten team in the postseason. Joe Saunders, who hasn’t pitched since Oct. 4, goes for the Angels. Rain is in the forecast for Saturday, and a postponement is possible.