SEATTLE (AP)—If Mr. August, CC Sabathia(notes), keeps pitching like this—and if a healthier Hideki Matsui(notes) keeps hitting like this—A-Rod, Jorge Posada(notes) and the rest of the banged-up Yankees can afford to extend days off into mini vacations.
Derek Jeter(notes) homered before leaving early to rest, Matsui had his fourth career two-home run game and a season-high five RBIs and Sabathia struck out a season-high 10 as New York began its longest road trip of the year with a breezy, 11-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
The Yankees had a 5-0 lead one out into the third inning without Alex Rodriguez(notes), who may also miss Friday with a bruised elbow, and without Posada, their bruised catcher who said he could have played.
They didn’t need them. They rolled on, winning for the 10th time in 11 games to increase their lead in the AL East over the Red Sox to a season high-tying 6 1/2 games.
Their 10-game trip has three more in Seattle, three games in Oakland and three at Boston.
“When you have pitching like this, you really don’t need too many runs,” Jeter deadpanned after he hit his 14th home run of the season, then departed in the eighth inning to rest a bruised right foot.
Sabathia (13-7) mixed a 96 mph fastball with sinkers and dancing off-speed pitches that had the AL’s lowest-scoring team flailing. He allowed just three hits and a solo home run in eight innings. It was his fifth win in six decisions. He improved to 31-9 in August in his career.
“I’ve been pitching ahead in the count,” Sabathia said. “And when I’m pitching ahead, I can pretty much put guys away.”
“When you can give a guy a day off and subs can contribute like that, it’s huge,” manager Joe Girardi said, adding it’s “50-50” whether Rodriguez plays Friday.
Matsui celebrated his temporary return to the cleanup spot with his 18th and 19th home runs. Asked if he loves batting fourth, which he’s done 15 times this season to Rodriguez’s 82, Matsui said through an interpreter: “I don’t hate it.”
He had bulky ice packs on both knees. He said Girardi using him as exclusively designated hitter to preserve him has helped his hitting.
The Mariners lost for the third time in seven games. They took their most lopsided defeat since an 11-0 pounding at Minnesota way back on May 8, yet stayed 5 1/2 games behind Boston in the wild-card standings.
Ian Snell(notes) was left on the mound to absorb most of the beating. Seattle had used 11 relievers for 13 2-3 innings over the previous three days entering Thursday, including four relievers over the final seven innings of a 1-0, 14-inning win against Chicago the previous night.
“Sometimes, somebody’s got to wear it,” Wakamatsu said, adding Snell will stay in his rotation.
Making his third AL start since Seattle acquired him from Pittsburgh on July 29, Snell (0-1) allowed nine hits and eight runs in six-plus innings. Five days earlier, Snell walked six Tampa Bay Rays while lasting just 1 1-3 innings in his home Seattle debut.
Snell was impressed with the Yankees—A-Rod or no A-Rod.
“That lineup is just stupid. They shouldn’t be allowed to have a lineup like that, but that is why their payroll is what it is,” Snell marveled. “That is a lineup nobody in the National League has.”
Matsui hit his second two-run homer in the eighth. This one barely eluded the reach of countryman Ichiro Suzuki(notes). The eight-time Gold Glove outfielder leaped above the right-field wall, but a Mariners fan snagged the ball from Suzuki with his glove just before it reached the outfielder’s.
When no one in his row high-fived him for turning an out into a Yankees’ home run, the man threw the would-be souvenir back onto the field, adding insult to an already embarrassing night for Seattle.
NOTES: Sabathia struck out 10 or more eight times last season for Cleveland and Milwaukee. … Girardi said 39-year-old closer Mariano Rivera(notes) was available, one day after he sought treatment for pain in his pitching shoulder, but that not having to use him was a boon.