In a matchup of former Cy Young winners, CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez both allowed one run in six innings pitched in the Yankees 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium. This gave the Yankees a 2-1 series win and they have now won six of their previous eight games.
Mark Teixeira, who hit a homer to right in the eighth inning off of Fernando Rodney with the score tied at one, was previously 0-9 against Rodney before his game-winning homer that went into the bleachers. Before Sunday’s game, Teixeira’s last go ahead homer in the eighth inning or later was in 2009. He has already hit more homers (23) and driven in more runs (63) than he did in all of last year.
Sabathia’s four seamer and slider worked very well, which helped him record seven strikeouts including all three batters he faced in the fourth. It was his first start of six innings, one earned run and seven strikeouts in two seasons.
“I feel great,” Sabathia said. “I had a week off. At this point in my career I think I am better when I have time off. I am friends with all these guys so it is not hard to try and help them the second half. I was able to work both sides of the plate and get swings and misses.”
Sabathia threw 33 four-seam fastballs and 19 sliders. He got three strikeouts on his slider. He allowed two earned runs in 5.1 innings in his previous start, which means he has gotten a little better than in his last start before the All-Star break.
“It looked like he was strong today and threw the ball well,” Joe Girardi said. “I thought he used his cutter extremely well today, something that he has been working on, and he mixed his other pitches in well. He threw a really good game and got some big outs when he needed to.”
The only run that Sabathia allowed was an RBI single to center by former Yankee Austin Jackson in the 5th inning. Sabathia retired the side in order in the first and fourth innings, and he got a double play to end the sixth.
The Mariners have a weak offense, but if he can continue using his cutter/changeup well and throwing to all parts of the plate effectively then he can be an asset to the rotation for the rest of the season. His ERA is currently a high 5.25 (an improvement from 5.65 on June 23), but it is more important what he is able to do the rest of the season as the Yankees look to win the division.
Sabathia does have an impressive 91 strikeouts and only 21 walks (4.33 K/BB), which is the 10th best strikeout to walk ratio in the AL.
“I’ve said all along that the ability is there, it is just the consistency of the pitcher,” Girardi said. “He was really good today. The one thing we know CC has is a lot of heart. We believe in him.”
Carlos Beltran, who was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, drove in the Yankees’ only run off of Hernandez. In the sixth inning, Beltran hit a single to left center that scored Brett Gardner to tie the score at one. (In a somewhat controversial move, the Yankees opted to send second base prospect Rob Refsnyder down to Triple-A after playing only four games instead of cutting Brendan Ryan.)
Beltran, who was 1-2, is now hitting a solid .307 in his last 43 games, which has brought his average up to a respectable .262. That is impressive since he had a .162 average at the end of April. “I got a good pitch, a curveball in the middle of the plate. and got a hit to left center,” Beltran said.
Dellin Betances pitched the eighth inning and picked up his sixth win of the campaign. He walked two Mariners but was able to get out of trouble since he got Mark Trumbo to pop out to second to end the inning. He lowered his ERA to 1.47 and hasn’t allowed a run in his last five appearances.
Andrew Miller struck out Dustin Ackley for the second out of the ninth on an inside 85mph slider. Miller than got catcher Mike Zunino to fly out to Brett Gardner to end the game. The Yankees had the Mariners where they wanted them because Betances pitched with the scored tied and Miller picked up his 20th save in 20 chances.
After the game, Girardi said that Refsnyder was sent down to improve all around and because he wanted to stick with what got them to first place.
“We just thought there were some little things he could work on,” Girardi said. “Just continue to improve and make little adjustments. We believe he is going to be here for a long time and for right now we are going to stay with the guys we have.”
After winning their 23rd come from behind game of the season, the Yankees will have Monday off before beginning a three-game series against the second place Baltimore Orioles at home. The Yankees have a 4-game lead over the Orioles for first place.