NEW YORK -- What do a bear and a bulldog have in common? Both can be ferocious, both fight. Carsten Sabathia reminds his teammates of both, in the best ways possible, for the way he's responded this postseason with the Yankees' backs against the wall.For the second time in a
NEW YORK -- What do a bear and a bulldog have in common? Both can be ferocious, both fight. Carsten Sabathia reminds his teammates of both, in the best ways possible, for the way he's responded this postseason with the Yankees' backs against the wall.
For the second time in a week, Sabathia delivered in a game the Yankees needed to win, tossing six scoreless innings in an 8-1 win over the Astros in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium. Wednesday's Game 5 in the AL Division Series was an actual elimination game, but Monday's may as well have been one too, as the Yanks desperately hoped to avoid a 3-0 hole in this ALCS presented by Camping World.
:: ALCS schedule and coverage ::
"He's a bulldog," Todd Frazier, whose three-run homer off Charlie Morton opened the scoring on Monday, said of Sabathia. "He looks like a bear out there, ready to pounce on someone."
• Dress for the ALCS: Get Yankees postseason gear
Sabathia's role as a stopper is nothing new. The veteran left-hander pitched his best this season when the Yankees needed him to, and he is now 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts (including postseason) following a New York loss.
Sabathia's start on Monday followed close losses to Houston in Games 1 and 2 that could have been demoralizing. But together, Sabathia and the Yanks' offense breathed new life into this ALCS.
They also set the Yankees up well going forward.
Manager Joe Girardi should have arguably his three top relievers -- Albertin Chapman, Player Page for David Robertson and Chad Green -- rested and ready for tonight's Game 4. Tommy Kahnle could be available as well, even though he was summoned when Dellin Betances made things messier than Girardi would've liked in the ninth inning by walking the only two batters he faced. Which means Girardi will have his favorite weapon more or less at full strength for what will be a pivotal Game 4. Much of that is thanks to the length provided by Sabathia, who stymied Astros hitters all night with a mix of cutters and sliders.
"CC was really good because he didn't make a lot of mistakes," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "We were a little swing happy tonight and he took advantage of being able to pitch to the outer parts of the strike zone.
Already up eight runs, Sabathia talked Girardi into letting him finish the sixth inning, with the bullpen on Sabathia's mind.
"I just wanted to make that last pitch and try to save as many people in the bullpen as possible," Sabathia said. "We know that's a strength of our team. As starters, you want to go as long as possible and get those guys as much rest as possible."
Chapman warmed up in the ninth, but he will technically be on two days' rest if used in Game 4. Same goes for Robertson, who didn't warm up on Monday after throwing two innings in Game 2. Green hasn't thrown since Game 1 on Friday night.
"It's good to have those guys," said Girardi, who has leaned on them heavily and deployed them at will this postseason. "We had the right guy on the mound tonight. Just an outstanding effort. Couldn't ask for anything more."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.