Jeter, Sabathia lead Yankees to sweep of Blue Jays
Turns out, all five guys behind him will get another start as well.
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(notes) 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(notes) and Nick Swisher(notes) all homered for the Yankees, who increased their AL East lead to 1 1/2 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(notes). 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(notes) in the eighth, cutting it to 5-3 and joining Carlos Delgado(notes) (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 Cubs.
“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(notes) 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 Stadium.
“We have the mentality right now that every pitch is the last pitch of the season,” Rodriguez said.
“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(notes) (21-5).
“Work doesn’t bother him. He could probably pitch on three days’ rest all season long,” said Mark Teixeira(notes), 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(notes) RBI double made it 4-2 in the fourth and needs two strikeouts to join Javier Vazquez(notes) and Tim Wakefield(notes) 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(notes) 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.