Yankees follow script perfectly, typically

October, 7, 2010
10/07/10
12:24
AM ET
Well, this is why people have been picking the Yankees, even with their one big shortcoming ...

CC Sabathia won 21 games this season. His opponent Wednesday night, Francisco Liriano, won only 14 games. Sabathia's 3.18 ERA wasn't among the league's very best ... but it was better than Liriano's 3.62 mark.

Did Sabathia really pitch better than Liriano, though?

Sabathia did throw quite a few more innings than Liriano. That does count for something, when you're evaluating their seasons. But durability over the course of six months becomes relatively unimportant in a single game. Maybe Sabathia goes seven innings and Liriano goes six, or six and one-third. Big deal.

This season, Liriano struck out 9.4 hitters and walked 2.7 per nine innings. Sabathia struck out 7.5 and walked 2.8 per nine innings.

Advantage: Liriano.

There's more to pitching than strikeouts and walks. Granted, not a lot more. But more.

For example, keeping the ball in the park. Sabathia gave up 20 home runs this season. Liriano gave up nine; his home-run ratio was the best in the American League.

There are, roughly speaking, three things a pitcher can control: strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Liriano equaled Sabathia in one of those things, and did significantly better in two of them. Liriano outpitched Sabathia for six months, and there wasn't any particularly good reason to think Liriano wouldn't outpitch Sabathia in tonight's particular game.

Except for one thing: There's more to baseball than pitching.

After New York scored four runs off Liriano in the sixth inning, Ron Darling said, "This is what this Yankee team does."

One inning later, Mark Teixeira put the Yankees ahead with a two-run homer. This Yankee team does this, too.

This Yankee team led the American League in scoring this year, and lately most of their key hitters have been both healthy and productive.

CC Sabathia won 21 games this season for two reasons: He pitched well, and the Yankees averaged nearly six runs per game when he started. That's a winning combination.

Tonight they scored six runs, and Sabathia got No. 22.

This is what this Yankee team does.

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