Sabathia returns and Yankees win another one from Blue Jays
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, July 18- CC Sabathia had control of his pitches and he was strong in his return from the disabled list Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. He dominated the Toronto Blue Jays lineup, without power hitter Jose Bautista who was placed on the 15-day disabled list and the Yankees continued to roll taking their second straight over the Jays 6-1 in the Bronx.
Sabathia carried a shutout into the seventh inning and the Yankees bullpen took over. The lefthander improved to 10-3, gave up four hits and struck out six.
“It was tough sitting here and watching your teammates go out and battle every day,” said Sabathia who improved to 13-3 lifetime against Toronto. “It feels good to come back and be a part of it.”
And for the Yankees and manager Joe Girardi, having Sabathia back in the rotation, only makes them continue their roll to another American League east division title. New York has won five of their last six and increased their lead in the division to 9 /1-2 games over Tampa Bay with a major league best record of 56-34.
After the three-run second inning, led by the three-run home run from Andruw Jones to left, Sabathia who missed two starts due to a left groin strain kept Blue Jays batters at bay.
Girardi was cautious. He removed Sabathia after throwing 87 pitches on a steamy 95-degree night. His ace, though, likes to pitch in steamy conditions and Girardi also said it may be an advantage that Sabathia missed a few starts because he will have less innings as the Yankees prepare for their post season run.
“My arm feels good when it is warm,” said Sabathia who had no lingering effects from the injury that sidelined him on June 24th. He experienced pain in the groin after pitching against the Mets in the final game of the subway interleague series.
“CC likes the heat,” said Girardi. “Can’t say that I ever did, but CC really enjoys it,”
Jays’ starter Brett Cecil (2-2) suffered his second loss of the season. In six innings he was touched for the three runs on the 12th home run of the year from Jones. He would settle down and not allow another run, but the Yankees got to the Toronto pen again scoring three more runs in the seventh inning.
“To his credit, he kept the ball down and he changed speeds effectively,” said Toronto manager John Farrell about his starter and the adjustments made after the Jones home run.
It was the 432nd career home run for Jones that surpassed Cal Ripken Jr. for sole possession of 41st place on baseball’s all time list.
Jones has been another weapon off the bench for Girardi along with Eric Chavez, DeWayne Wise and Jayson Nix. They have also accounted for many of the 145 home runs hit by the Yankees that lead baseball.
Girardi said about his bench “I think I have a really good bench that can be extremely productive for us. It’s been really helpful.”
Rafael Soriano closed the door in the ninth inning for his 24th save in 25 opportunities. Girardi once again used four pitchers out of the pen before calling on his closer as the Blue Jays scored their lone run in the eighth and stranded two in the ninth.
Robinson Cano also extended his career best hitting streak to 20- games, the longest active in the majors and most since Derek Jeter in the 2007 season.
With Sabathia back in the rotation and the Yankees winning in this 13-game stretch, there is more room for confidence. They go for the series sweep in the get- away finale Wednesday afternoon with Hiroki Kuroda (8-7) on the mound.
“We’ve been doing a little bit of everything,” said Jeter. “We’ve got a pretty good combination of things going right now.”
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com