CC Sabathia didn’t seem to miss a beat in his first start off the disabled list.
Sabathia looks to continue his dominance over the Blue Jays in Wednesday’s series finale at Yankee Stadium.
After offenses shined in Monday’s opener, with Toronto (57-71) winning 8-7 in 11 innings, pitchers took center stage Tuesday, and New York (75-54) pulled out a 2-1 victory. The Yankees, who won for the third time in eight contests, remained 3 1/2 games ahead of second-place Baltimore in the AL East, and pushed their lead over Tampa Bay to five.
New York, playing without sluggers Mark Teixeira (strained left calf) and Alex Rodriguez (broken hand), managed five hits and the runs came on Curtis Granderson’ sacrifice fly and Nick Swisher’s RBI single.
A couple runs might be enough again with Sabathia (13-3, 3.44 ERA) on the mound.
In making his first start since Aug. 8 due to left elbow soreness in Cleveland on Friday, Sabathia showed no signs of rustiness, yielding a run and four hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-1 win. The left-hander struck out nine and walked one.
“He really knows how to pitch,” Joe Girardi said. “I was pleasantly surprised how solid his command was. You don’t throw for 15 days, you don’t always get that.”
Sabathia, however, was just as effective in his first start coming off the DL six weeks ago.
After being sidelined for three weeks because of a left groin strain, Sabathia showed no ill effects in facing the Blue Jays on July 17, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out six in six shutout innings of a 6-1 victory.
That kind of performance has come to be expected from Sabathia against Toronto.
In nine starts against the Blue Jays since 2007, he is 8-0 with a 2.48 ERA - his most wins without a loss against any team he has faced more than three times.
Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion, who is hitless in eight at-bats in this series after batting .368 with three homers in his previous five games, is 4 for 18 (.222) with a double against Sabathia since 2010.
While Encarnacion’s production has slowed, Swisher has been locked in at the plate lately, batting .371 with six homers and 19 RBIs in his last 16 games.
Pearce, acquired from Houston on Monday, hit cleanup and was New York’s designated hitter Tuesday, and was 0 for 2 with a walk.
Happ, who came over from the Astros on July 20, made his second start with the Blue Jays against the Yankees on Aug. 12, and allowed a run and three hits in five innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He recorded two more outs while yielding three more runs, but managed to get the win in a 10-7 victory.
He has a 1.35 ERA in two starts since, and in Detroit on Thursday, the lefty gave up a run and four hits while striking out seven in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-2, 11-inning loss.
The Blue Jays, who are 6-22 since July 29, announced before Tuesday’s game that two-time defending AL home run champion Jose Bautista will have season-ending left wrist surgery next week.