Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
April 6 ISN – TORONTO – CC Sabathia won in his 400th American League start and Brett Gardner ended a Yankees homer drought to help New York to a 6-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon.
Sabathia (1-1) wobbled in the first and sixth innings but retired 16 of 17 between the flashpoints. He gave up four runs on seven hits and struck out six in a six-inning, 93-pitch performance that featured 65 strikes.
The victory, before 34,067 at the Rogers Centre, came in the rubber match of the three-game series. New York (3-3) returns for a nine-game homestand while Toronto (3-4) has a day off before hosting Houston.
Jays starter Drew Hutchison (1-1) lasted just 3 1/3 innings and paid for his mistakes. He struck out six but walked three and hit a batsman with all four scoring. The 23-year-old right-hander, arguably the Jays’ best pitcher during spring training, gave up six earned runs on six hits while throwing 78 pitches including 49 for strikes.
Hutchison, who struck out 19 and walked just four in the pre-season, has now struck out 10 and walked six in his first two starts.
Toronto did get 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief from Todd Redmond, Steve Delabar and Esmil Rogers and put two men on base in the ninth.
The 33-year-old Sabathia gave up a leadoff homer to Melky Cabrera before settling down to dispatch one Blue Jay after another.
Cabrera’s home run was his third in as many days, with the Friday and Sunday blasts both leadoff homers. It has taken him just seven games this season to match the three home runs he had all of last year (in a season restricted to 88 games, due to injuries).
Cabrera, who now has three career leadoff home runs, extended his hitting streak against the Yankees to 16 games.
The six-foot-seven 285-pound Sabathia, a six-time all-star who is making US$23 million this season, improved his major-league record to 206-116 in bouncing back from a rocky Opening Day start in Houston that saw him give up six runs in the first two innings.
Sabathia showed good control Sunday, often getting ahead of the Toronto hitters. But Toronto finally got to the big left-hander with two outs in the sixth thanks to three singles and a double. Dioner Navarro’s double scored one run before Erik Kratz singled two more home to reduce the lead to 6-4.
The Yankees came into the game without a home run, marking only the fifth time since 1923 that New York had gone without a homer for the first five games of the campaign. Gardner changed all of that with a two-run shot in the fourth.
Yankees veteran Derek Jeter singled to right field to lead off the third inning for his 3,319th career hit, which tied him with Paul Molitor for eighth on MLB’s all-time hits list and fourth on the AL hits list.
Hutchison walked two and hit a batsman in a wobbly 25-pitch first inning that saw all three mistakes come home.
A leadoff walk scored when Gardner stole second, was moved to third by Jeter and came home on Jacoby Ellsbury’s groundout. After Brian McCann walked and Alfonso Soriano was hit by a pitch, Kelly Johnson doubled both home for a 3-0 lead.
Cabrera’s homer, on Sabathia’s second delivery of the day, made it 3-1.
Hutchison was living dangerous again in the third when he put the first two batters on base. But he escaped without damage, thanks to two strikeouts.
A leadoff walk to Brian Roberts turned into another run in the fourth. Roberts stole second and was driven home by Yangervis Solarte, an eight-year minor-leaguer from Venezuela who is turning heads early in the season.
Gardner then slammed a 3-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a 6-1 lead. Todd Redmond came on to pitch one hit later.
The Jays unsuccessfully challenged an Ichiro Suzuki stolen base in the sixth inning. The review lasted two minutes 40 seconds.
Toronto came close with two outs in the eighth with a Jose Bautista drive caught at the warning track and an Edwin Encarncion triple that almost went out. But Navarro grounded out to end the rally.
With one out in the ninth and David Robertson (who got his second save) on the mound, Brett Lawrie singled and pinch-hitter Adam Lind walked. But pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus popped out and Cabrera, to chants of Melky, Melky, flied out to right.
Both teams had nine hits on the day.
NOTES — Toronto came into the game, hitting just .209 as a team. Only Houston, at .195, was worse in the AL … Raptors star DeMar DeRozan threw out the first pitch. It was high and wide but still earned him a warm welcome.