For the first time as a Yankee, CC Sabathia had gone five straight starts without a win before pitching seven strong innings against the Orioles this afternoon. He allowed only three hits — two of them were home runs — while striking out six. Most importantly, he located his fastball and changeup much better than in recent starts.
“A little bit better command of his breaking ball and he’ll be there,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “He was still missing down. They were good misses. They weren’t hanging.”
Sabathia said the biggest difference was being able to put hitters away. Despite what Joe Girardi has said, Sabathia said his mechanics have been fine, he just hasn’t been executing.
“Just making pitches,” he said. “I got ahead a few times and didn’t put guys away the past couple of starts. I’d get 1-2, 0-2, and guys would foul off a couple of pitches and it would turn into a long at-bat. Today I was able to put guys away. Buried a couple of sliders. Threw a changeup where it needed to be. Got the fastball in on the hands.”
That’s all good news for the Yankees who have now won five straight, with their starting pitchers getting all five of those wins. During this streak, the rotation is 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA and 34 strikeouts. They’ve walked three batters.
• Robinson Cano has now tied Jorge Cantu for the longest hitting streak in the major leagues this season. He’s hit in 17 straight and would match a career-high with a hit tomorrow in Toronto. Sabathia said he knows exactly what he would do if he need to pitch to Cano. “I probably wouldn’t,” he said. “Even being a lefty, he’s on fire. He’s our best hitter right now.”
• Brett Gardner hit his third home run of the season off Kevin Millwood. Three homers matches Gardner’s total for last season. “He’s a guy that throws a lot of cutters in, or a little front-door two-seamer,” Gardner said. “He’s not a guy that I would try to pull, but you have to be aware that he’s going to come in there sometimes.” As he’s said time and time again, Gardner insisted that his approach does not change because he’s hitting ninth instead of second. “The whole second lead-off deal, I’ve never really understood that,” he said. “If a guy’s hitting ninth, he’s hitting ninth.”
• The past two years, the Yankees are 6-0 when Gardner hits a home run.
• Sabathia did allow a home run to Luke Scott, the first left-handed home run he’s allowed at the current Yankee Stadium. He’s now allowed 12 home runs this season, six fewer than he allowed all of last year. He’s never allowed more than 20. “Who cares?” Eiland said. “That doesn’t concern me.”
• The ball that hit off Sabathia’s pitching had hit the pad of his palm, just beneath his thumb. Sabathia said it was numb at first but ultimately felt fine. Girardi and Eiland weren’t exactly happy to see him field that ball with his bare hand.
• Why did Girardi take Sabathia out after 94 pitches? “I just felt with the heat today it was time to make a change,” Girardi said. “CC wanted to stay in.”
• Since coming off the disabled list Curtis Granderson is 10-for-24 (.417) with four doubles, a home run and six runs scored. He’s had a hit in every start since coming back.
• Alex Rodriguez has now hit six home runs in his past 24 games after hitting just two home runs in his first 28 games of the season. In 30 games since May 1 he’s hitting .336 with 29 RBI and 21 runs.
• Rodriguez was told that David Huff was able to start today, just five days after Rodriguez hit a line drive off his head. “It just tells you how weak I am,” Rodriguez said. When he wants to, the guy can be pretty funny.
• Lost Rule 5 pick Kanekoa Texeira was claimed off waivers by the Royals. He now has to stay on Kansas City’s 25-man roster or else be once again sent through waivers and offered back to the Yankees if he clears.
• Former Yankees minor leaguer Jason Jones — who was also once lost in the Rule 5 draft — has signed a minor league deal with the Nationals. Jones had some great years in Double-A with the Yankees, but never did much beyond that.
UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.: Rough news out of Scranton. Jon Weber has been released to open a roster spot for Juan Miranda. I’m sure you remember Weber from his awesome spring training. Weber had been hitting lately. He might have asked to be let go, seeing no real opportunity to move up with the Yankees.
Associated Press photos of Rodriguez and Gardner.