The biggest out was the one pictured above. It came on a bases-loaded cutter to Ichiro Suzuki, a guy with outstanding career numbers against the Yankees ace. CC Sabathia attacked him, and got a comebacker. He threw home, started a 1-2-3 double play, and walked of the mound with a fist pump. The yankees were already leading by seven, but it was only the fifth inning, and Sabathia seemed to know he’s just halted the biggest threat of the day.
“He just knows how to pitch,” Joe Girardi said. “When he has to give us distance, he knows what he has to do. He takes it upon himself that, ‘I’m going to go out and do it for you.’ If CC gets in a little jam, there’s no panic to him.”
Maybe it’s no coincidence that the Yankees seem to play their best baseball behind their best pitcher. Sure, they’ve had some stinkers behind Sabathia, but in his past eight starts, the Yankees have averaged more than eight runs. Their four highest-scoring games of the season have been Sabathia starts.
“I’ve got no complaints,” Sabathia said. “I don’t think anybody’s realized it yet, but I know.”
This was a good win. It doesn’t make up for Friday and Saturday, but it eases some of the bitterness. The lineup had a game it could be proud of, and the bullpen got a rest after being overworked the past two nights. Sabathia was two outs away from matching the two-day innings total for A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova.
“We’ve got our big boy on the mound,” Nick Swisher said. “You get one or two runs, you feel like you’re going to win the ballgame.”
• There was certainly not a sense of satisfaction in the Yankees clubhouse tonight, but it was certainly more lively than it had been the previous 48 hours or so. “I think these past couple of games have been really hard on us,” Swisher said. “Definitely not the way we would have liked them, but I just think that just goes to show the tenacity of this team to be able to come back today, especially after a late game last night, come in here today, no batting practice, everyone’s in the cage early, getting their swings in. Just that mental focus we had today, and really just did a tremendous job out there.”
• The big hit of the night belonged to Andruw Jones, who had his second double of the season with a two-out, three-run base hit that broke the game open in the third inning. “I thought that was the real turning point in the game,” Girardi said. “For him to get that (double) with the bases loaded and two outs, 5-0 is sure a lot better than 2-0. We wanted to ride CC a long time today because of our bullpen, so I thought that was huge.”
• Sabathia leads the Major Leagues in wins since his debut in 2001. He’s now won 163 games since then, breaking a tie with Roy Halladay who’s won 164. In his past three starts, Sabathia has pitched 25 innings with a 1.80 ERA. He’s won all three of those starts.
• The Yankees hit a home run within the first two innings of every game this series (Teixeira on Friday, Cano on Saturday and Swisher tonight). Of course, this was the first time an early lead actually lasted to the end.
• Swisher talked a little bit about his home run, but he also talked about falling behind and eventually drawing a walk against right-handed reliever Jeff Gray. “It was just a nice step in the right direction,” he said.
• Mark Teixeira has a six-game hitting streak and a five-game RBI streak. In his past 10 games, Teixeira is hitting .262 with six home runs and 13 RBI.
• Another scoreless inning for Lance Pendleton, meaning every Yankees reliever got into this three-game series. Pendleton still hasn’t been charged with a run.
• Curtis Granderson went 3-for-5. He’s hitting .455 in his past five game.
• Eduardo Nunez had an RBI triple (which ended with a not-so-graceful slide into third). He also managed to play an entire game without making a bad throw. After not having an RBI in April, he has seven RBI in May.
• Every Yankees starter had a hit, but only Granderson had more than one.
• The Yankees have not been swept by the Mariners since May 3-5, 2002 in old Yankee Stadium. They haven’t been swept in Seattle since 1996.
Associated Press photos