“Maybe after the season,” Sabathia said. “But right now we’re right in the middle of this thing—trying to win a championship, trying to win a division first. … Maybe after the season I can sit back and enjoy it a little more. Right now, I’m just looking five days ahead and who I’m pitching against next.”
Sabathia (20-6) leads the majors in victories. He twice finished seasons with 19 wins, and succeeded this year in his third try at No. 20.
“He has been our ace all year, really since he’s got here, and to get to 20 wins is quite an accomplishment,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia.
Sabathia already had a Cy Young Award, a World Series championship and several All-Star selections to his credit over 10 seasons. Winning 20 games was about the only thing missing on his pitching resume.
“I think it’s meaningful to any pitcher,” Girardi said. “I think as he gets older, he’ll appreciate it more. I think CC realizes how difficult it is. As good as he’s been, it’s the first time he’s done it.”
The big lefty allowed three runs on seven hits over seven innings for the AL East leaders. Sabathia, denied the big win in a home loss to the Orioles on Sept. 7, walked one and struck out four, improving to 14-2 all-time against Baltimore.
Sabathia found one perk: “People will stop asking me about it now.”
“These guys swung the bat, put some runs up on the board and took a lot of the pressure off,” Sabathia said.
Cano’s two-run shot in the fifth put the second baseman at 101 RBIs. That gave the Yankees three infielders with 100 or more RBIs in a single season for the first time in franchise history—first baseman Mark Teixeira(notes) and third baseman Alex Rodriguez(notes) previously reached the mark.
“It’s big for (Cano),” Girardi said. “Everyone was concerned who was going to hit fifth for us (after) losing (Hideki) Matsui. Robbie has stepped in and been tremendous for us all year long.”
Jeter was hit in the ribs by Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie(notes) (10-14) on the game’s first pitch and came around to score on Posada’s two-run single later in the first. It marked the 13th time in Jeter’s 16-year career that he has scored 100 or more runs in a season.
Jeter’s sacrifice fly scored Gardner, who led off with a triple, for a 3-0 lead in the second.
An RBI groundout by Jeter restored the Yankees’ two-run cushion in the fourth.
In the fifth, Rodriguez singled and Cano followed with a homer onto the right-field flag court, his 28th.
Andino homered for the second straight game in the fifth.
Nick Swisher(notes) added an RBI double in the sixth off Orioles reliever Mark Hendrickson(notes). Jeter reached on an infield single—a close play on which he spread his arms in a safe call as he crossed the bag ahead of shortstop Izturis’ throw—and Swisher then doubled into the left-field corner.
Notes: The last club with three infielders with 100 or more RBIs was the 2003 St. Louis Cardinals (1B Albert Pujols(notes), 3B Scott Rolen(notes), SS Edgar Renteria(notes)). The last American League club to turn the trick was the 2001 Oakland A’s (SS Miguel Tejada(notes), 1B Jason Giambi(notes), 3B Eric Chavez(notes)). … Orioles manager Buck Showalter said LHP Brian Matusz(notes), who left Monday’s game after one inning with a bruised left triceps after being struck by a liner by Toronto’s Yunel Escobar(notes), will make his scheduled Monday start. … SS Manny Machado, the Orioles’ first-round choice in the June amateur draft, was introduced to the sellout crowd of 48,775 in the middle of the third inning. The sellout was Baltimore’s second of the season—the first since opening day. … Girardi wasn’t pleased that Guthrie plunked Jeter, the 10th time this year a Yankee has been hit by an Oriole pitcher. “Too many. Just too many,” Girardi said. “I just really don’t understand it and I know he likes to pitch inside, but it’s too many. And that doesn’t include the ones in spring training.” Guthrie contended that his command deserted him as he tried to work inside.