Yankees 4 Blue Jays 1
TORONTO — CC Sabathia didn’t give the Toronto Blue Jays much room to work with en route to becoming baseball’s first 14-game winner.
Sabathia allowed one run on three hits over eight innings Saturday as the New York Yankees ended the Blue Jays’ five-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory.
“CC threw three pitches for strikes, a lot of strikes through the course of the day and was very good,” Toronto manager John Farrell said. “So there were not a lot of opportunities to take advantage of.”
Sabathia (14-4) gave up a first-inning run to end a string of 23 2-3 scoreless innings before keeping the previously hot Toronto bats under control. The left-hander struck out eight and walked three.
“It’s nice as a manager to pencil his name in there every fifth day,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s been so good for us and we’ve needed some good starts.”
Meanwhile, Ricky Romero (7-9) who was given a couple of extra days off after the all-star break and it showed. The Jays’ left-hander allowed six hits, three walks and four runs, three of them earned, in five innings of work in front of 45,606 at Rogers Centre.
Romero did not feel the extra time off affected his sharpness.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “If anything I felt like I needed a little bit of a rest. It was a long first half. For me I felt good, I was just a little wild, I wasn’t myself and we’ll go on to the next one.
“I felt good, I felt good in the bullpen, I just got a little wild and got my pitch count up high. These guys aren’t going to swing at bad pitches, they’re going to make you pitch and that’s what they did.”
Mariano Rivera gave up two hits in the ninth but still collected his 23rd save. Sabathia, who was coming off a 1-0 shutout over Tampa Bay last Sunday, won his seventh straight start.
Romero needed 107 pitches to get through five innings and only 59 were strikes.
“That happens to guys,” Farrell said. “They go through stretches where the touch and feel isn’t quite as consistent. Physically everything was fine.
“I thought the overall power of his stuff was there, it was just inconsistent at times and when he did make some quality pitches they found a way to fight them off.”
The Blue Jays (47-48) scored in the first on Yunel Escobar’s single that brought home Rajai Davis after the Toronto centre fielder led off with a walk and stole second.
“My command was off early,” Sabathia said. “I just stuck with it, tried to be aggressive and I ended up getting better as the game went on.”
Escobar was batting third for the second game in a row, replacing major-league home run leader Jose Bautista. The Toronto slugger, who suffered an ankle injury sliding into third base on Thursday, said before the game that he could return by Tuesday.
The Yankees (54-37) took a 2-1 lead in the second. Nick Swisher doubled with one out and scored on a single by Andruw Jones. Brett Gardner then doubled to right and Jones scored on a ground out by Eduardo Nunez.
A throwing error by Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill let the Yankees add a run in the third. Curtis Granderson led off with a walk and took third on Robinson Cano’s single to right. With two out, the Blue Jays had Cano caught in a rundown between first and second but as Granderson broke for the plate, Hill threw home wildly and the run scored.
“We’re in the first and third situation,” Farrell said. “If Aaron’s throw is on target we probably cut down the runner Granderson right there and we’re looking at a 3-1 game instead of a 4-1 game. With the exception of that play I still thought we played good defence overall.”
New York made it 4-1 in the fifth on Derek Jeter’s infield hit. Gardner hit a bloop double to centre as Davis lacked urgency in getting to the ball.
“I think more than anything it was the aggressiveness right out of box of Gardner that probably took (Davis) a little bit off-guard,” Farrell said.
Nunez sacrificed Gardner to third and Jeter grounded his single into the hole between short and third. Escobar fielded the ball and made a wild throw to first for an error. Jeter moved to second but was left stranded.
After Escobar walked to lead off the fourth, Adam Lind singled for the Blue Jays’ second hit. But the inning ended when Hill lined into a double play. Sabathia did not allow another hit until John McDonald’s one-out double in the eighth. McDonald got as far as third base before Eric Thames lined out to centre to end the inning.
“(Sabathia) threw a lot of strikes, he attacked the hitters, he was able to execute,” Davis said. “We got some pitches to hit and unfortunately we were unable to square them up like we wanted to and hit them hard where they weren’t. He was just better than us today.”