(CC Sabathia‘s) long, frustrating journey started with three walks and 27 pitches in the first. At the end of that inning, Sabathia approached Davis and asked, “How far am I missing?”
The ump put his thumb and index finger an inch apart and said, “By that much.”
Sabathia kept trying in vain to close that distance; he threw 63 pitches in three innings. When he was pulled in the sixth, Sabathia had delivered 106 pitches and surrendered four runs, seven hits and five unintentional walks.
“I actually thought he made a lot of good pitches tonight,” Girardi maintained at the start of his postgame news conference, “and I thought the zone was a small zone tonight. … You throw some borderline pitches and you don’t get them, it makes the innings tougher.”
Here is last night’s strike zone via Brooks Baseball. The triangles are the pitches thrown by Yankees pitchers. Red means a strike while green is a ball.
By my count there are about 18 pitches that should have been called strikes last night, but were not and it seems to be split fairly evenly for both teams. So while it seems that CC certainly got the squeeze on the left side of the plate, so did Justin Verlander.
The problem comes in when you consider that the Yankees had six left handed hitters in their lineup while the Tigers only had one. So CC is working left handed trying to pitch to mostly righties and this umpires has completely taken away the outside of the plate from him. Conversely Verlander faced mostly lefties and had an extra couple inches to work inside.
Without making too many excuses it seems as if CC was at a tremendous disadvantage last night. But hey, that’s the human element for you.