New York Yankees starter CC Sabathia hates being on the disabled list. He enjoys carrying the moniker of workhorse. So, while he was recovering from a groin strain for close to the last three weeks, he made sure that when he returned he would be ready. Against the Toronto Blue Jays last night, Sabathia looked more like a pitcher who was on a roll than one who just got off the disabled list.
Sabathia was brilliant and nasty at times, holding the Blue Jays to four hits and one walk while striking out six in six-plus innings. He threw only 87 pitches registering 66 strikes to earn his tenth victory of the season. He lowered his team-leading ERA among starters to 3.27. If yesterday was any indication of how he will be in the second-half for the Yankees, they will be able to ride their ace straight into October.
Sabathia was backed early by hot-hitting Andruw Jones who launched a three-run homer in second inning, driving in Robinson Cano, who extended his hit streak to 20 games and Nick Swisher. It was Jones’ 12th homer of the season and fifth since July 7. He has nine RBI during the span and once again eases the notion that the Yankees have to make a trade in the wake of Brett Gardner‘s third setback.
With Jones’ bomb the Yankees had a lead and Sabathia was dominant throughout. His battery-mate Chris Stewart said he felt Sabathia’s velocity was better than he expected and had a feeling from the warm-up in the bullpen that CC was in for a good night.
“I wasn’t expecting as much velocity as he had tonight,” Stewart said. “I was more concerned with him throwing the ball where it needed to be, keeping the balls down. Everything was that and more. He came out throwing hard, but it was where it needed to be, so I just let him do it.”
The Yankees added three runs in the bottom half of the seventh on run-scoring doubles by Stewart and Derek Jeter. Alex Rodriguez added a RBI ground out to make it 6-0. Chad Qualls, who gave up a run in the eighth, and Clay Rapada ran into trouble in the ninth and Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to use Rafael Soriano. He earned his 24th save in 25 chances by getting a double play liner to first ending the game with the bases loaded.
The Yankees (56-34) now hold a 9.5 game (10 in the loss column) lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The Blue Jays fell one game under the .500 mark at 45-46 and sit 11.5 back of the Yankees.
In this afternoon’s series finale, the Yanks send Hiroki Kuroda (8-7, 3.67 ERA) to the mound. Kuroda is hoping to bounce back from back-to-back poor starts in which he allowed 11 runs in 13 innings. He was beaten up by the Jays in a start back in May giving up seven runs, including three homers, in five innings. The Blue Jays counter with left-hander Ricky Romero (8-5, 5.03 ERA). Romero is 3-4 with a 5.02 ERA in 61 innings versus the Yankees.