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Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Rapid Reax: Yankees 4, Diamondbacks 3

By Wallace Matthews

This was a game the Yankees had no business winning -- their lineup couldn't hit, CC Sabathia was working with low-octane gas, and the Diamondbacks' starter, Wade Miley, was dealing. Yet the Yanks still managed to pull out a dramatic 4-3 victory, thanks to a gutsy performance by their ace and a super-clutch hit by an offseason pickup no one was too thrilled about. Until Wednesday night, that is.

What it means: That the Yankees might have to get used to a different version of Sabathia than the one they have been used to seeing. Still, the version they saw Wednesday was good enough to earn his third win of the season.

Pronk's cheer: With right-handed reliever David Hernandez pitching, Joe Girardi sent Travis Hafner -- signed in the offseason to be the everyday DH -- up to hit for the struggling Ben Francisco. It reaped immediate dividends when Pronk crushed the first pitch he saw into the right-field seats for a home run that broke a 3-3 tie. It was Hafner's fourth homer of the season, tying Robinson Cano for the team lead.

Rough start: The Diamondbacks jumped on Sabathia early, with Paul Goldschmidt lining a changeup the opposite way into the right-field seats in the first inning with A.J. Pollock aboard to give Arizona a 2-0 lead. Sabathia locked things down for the next three innings, but then allowed a leadoff triple to Josh Wilson that led to another run in the fifth.

Velo an issue? For the fourth straight start, Sabathia's velocity was down, on all his pitches. His fastball never got above 90 miles per hour. And his slider, generally about 80-82 mph, averaged about 77 mph. Still, he toughed it out for eight innings, throwing 108 pitches. The fact that Sabathia pitched as well as he did with subpar stuff is testimony to his tenacity and ability to keep hitters off balance, but how long can he continue to get away with this?

Seventh heaven: With Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez on the DL, the Yankees are at a serious disadvantage facing left-handed starters -- their DH and No. 5 hitter, Francisco, came in hitting .000 (but singled in the seventh to raise his average to .091). Until the seventh inning, that weakness really showed. After Brett Gardner led off the first with a single, the Yankees did not get another hit until Vernon Wells' two-out double in the sixth. But after Francisco's hit, Brennan Boesch followed with a double, and then Miley walked Eduardo Nunez to load the bases and Jayson Nix to force in a run. Then Gardner singled home two runs to tie the game at 3.

Everyone's gone to the movies: Although the game was played in pleasant, 68-degree conditions, there were wide swaths of empty seats all over the park. The announced attendance was 34,369, but it looked like a lot less in the park. And on this date last year, 40,169 came to see the Yankees play the Twins. So yeah, attendance is down.

Speedy conclusion: Time of the game? 2:28. Quite enjoyable.