By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ No matter how many pitches CC Sabathia throws,
his spot is secure atop the Yankees’ rotation.
Turns out, all five guys behind him will get another start as
Sabathia earned his 19th win, Derek Jeter tied a career high
with five RBIs and New York polished off a three-game sweep of the
Toronto Blue Jays with a 9-3 victory Sunday.
After the game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced that the
team had reversed course and would go with six starters at least
one more time through the rotation. Girardi had said it was
important to cut down to five soon, and he was planning to pull the
odd man out this week.
“I’m allowed to change my mind,” Girardi explained. “We want
to see it again. We liked what we saw from our guys.”
Girardi acknowledged that A.J. Burnett’s latest outing played a
role in the decision. After struggling badly for most of the
summer, Burnett tweaked his mechanics before Thursday night’s start
and turned in a solid performance at Boston.
“I’m real curious. I loved what I saw from A.J. in Boston,”
Girardi said. “There’s no rush to make this decision.”
Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher all homered for the
Yankees, who increased their AL East lead to 11/2 games when the Red
Sox lost to Texas. Sabathia struck out 10 in 7 1-3 innings to win
his seventh consecutive start against Toronto.
One big reason for that success: Sabathia has dominated his
matchups with slugger Jose Bautista. The major league home run
leader is 0 for 18 with eight strikeouts against the big lefty
after going hitless in three tries Sunday.
“He’s one of the best hitters in the league,” Sabathia said.
“Hopefully I can keep it up.”
Bautista did hit a colossal homer off Rafael Soriano in the
eighth, cutting it to 5-3 and joining Carlos Delgado (1999, 2000)
as the only Blue Jays to sock 40 home runs in successive seasons.
Soriano avoided further damage and New York tacked on four runs
in the eighth against Toronto’s bullpen. Swisher hit a two-run shot
and Jeter, rested Saturday, had a two-run single to go with his
three-run homer in the third.
It was the fourth time in his career that he has knocked in five
runs. The previous time was June 18, 2005, against the Chicago
“This is the fun part of the season,” Jeter said. “It’s a lot
more fun when you’re contributing.”
After a disappointing start, the 37-year-old Jeter is batting
.346 with 17 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs in 50 games since coming
off the disabled list July 4.
“He’s been awesome,” Rodriguez said. “He’s doing it all.
Pretty amazing right now.”
Prized prospect Jesus Montero had two hits for the Yankees, who
boosted their record in day games to a big league-best 37-9. They
have won four straight and seven of eight overall to move a
season-high 32 games over .500 at 85-53.
It was New York’s eighth sweep this season and first of at least
three games against Toronto since August 2006 at the old Yankee
“We have the mentality right now that every pitch is the last
pitch of the season,” Rodriguez said.
Brett Cecil (4-8) went six innings for the Blue Jays, who have
lost eight of 11. He is 0-4 in seven starts since winning
consecutive outings against Texas in late July.
“I had a good changeup. I had a good curveball,” Cecil said.
“The pitch to Jeter just needed to be a little more in.”
Sabathia (19-7) threw 128 pitches, two shy of his career high,
over six innings Tuesday night at Fenway Park to improve to 1-4 in
five starts against Boston this season. He was much more efficient
against Toronto, which was no surprise.
The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner is 12-3 in 15 career starts
against the Blue Jays, including 3-0 this year and 7-0 since the
beginning of the 2007 season. He ranks second in the majors in wins
behind Detroit ace Justin Verlander (21-5).
“Work doesn’t bother him. He could probably pitch on three
days’ rest all season long,” said Mark Teixeira, who returned to
the New York lineup after missing two games with a sore right knee.
“He’s just a horse.”
Sabathia yielded six hits, walked one and threw 111 pitches. He
retired 10 in a row after Mark Teahen’s RBI double made it 4-2 in
the fourth and needs two strikeouts to join Javier Vazquez and Tim
Wakefield as the only active pitchers with 2,000.
Rodriguez, who returned to the lineup Saturday after missing six
games with a sprained left thumb, hit a leadoff homer in the sixth
to the short porch in right.
“I’m not blaming the park, but it’s unbelievable what you have
to deal with here,” Cecil said. “I got it in on his hands. He was
fighting to get his hands through.”
It was A-Rod’s 628th career homer and 15th this season. He tied
Carl Yastrzemski for 15th place on the career list with 1,816 runs.
“It was a flyball to right. I got very lucky that ball sailed
over the fence. Couldn’t believe it,” Rodriguez said.
NOTES: Toronto played its 10th straight game without manager
John Farrell. He is recovering from pneumonia and could rejoin the
team Monday for the opener of a four-game series at home against
Boston. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been running the team in
Farrell’s place. … Yankees CF Curtis Granderson was rested. He is
2 for 14 (.143) against Cecil. … Hall of Fame C Yogi Berra
visited the Yankees clubhouse and attended the game, drawing a warm
ovation when he was shown on the big video board.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)