Sabathia pitches 6 shutout innings to win in return
Web linksOn-Base Perception: Yankees
A real hot spot, Yankee Stadium. And not in the wireless Internet or temperature sense, though it was 95 degrees in the South Bronx for Tuesday night's's first pitch.
The real heat continues to be generated by the Yankees, whose 6-1 victory over the Blue Jays amplified their major league-best record to 56-34 and guaranteed they would maintain their American League East lead of nine games.
For the 41st consecutive game, going back to May 30, the Yankees scored at least three runs -- the longest stretch of such offensive production in the storied history of a franchise embracing the "Bomber'' tag. So, although the often-shuffled 2012 lineup may not strike the same fear into opponents as those first six batters known as Murderer's Row in 1927 -- Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri -- there is an argument to be made for a modern Hit-man Parade.
Consider, for instance, that Andruw Jones' three-run second-inning home run represented the 22nd homer and 75th runs batted in by a No. 7 hitter this year, tops in the majors, and upped the Yankees homer total to 145, more than any other big-league team.
"Lefties, beware,'' Nick Swisher said of Jones' job platooning against lefthanders.
"When they call out your name,'' Jones said, shrugging, "you've got to go out there and get the job done.''
With the Yankee machine accelerating, never seeming to grind the gears, Robinson Cano added a 20th game to his career-long hitting streak and Jayson Nix -- playing third base with Alex Rodriguez in the designated hitter spot -- went 3-for-4. "I think I have a really good bench,'' Joe Girardi said.
Plus, he once again had CC Sabathia, returning from a three-week absence while rehabilitating a groin strain. Sabathia (10-3, 3.27) worked one batter into the seventh inning, allowing just four hits, striking out six and walking one. Sixty-six of his 87 pitches were strikes, and the only time Toronto got a runner as far as third base against him, when Rajai Davis doubled and stole third with two outs in the third inning, Sabathia promptly struck out Colby Rasmus.
"Felt good, felt excited,'' Sabathia said. "It made it a little easier we were winning . Guys stepped up, the bullpen was great. But it's good to be part of it again.''
His fastball -- the CC seemed to stand for Chuckin' Cheese -- appeared to add jump as the game went on, registering in the low to mid-90s by the sixth inning.
"He had a lot of gas in the tank,'' catcher Chris Stewart said of Sabathia, "the most life I've seen in his fastball all year.''
Girardi proclaimed himself "really impressed. Whenever you have a layoff, there's a concern. Life to his fastball, his changeup was good, his slider was good, his command was good. Whenever you have a layoff, there's a concern. So I was really impressed.''
More Yankees offense was to come after Sabathia departed with a 3-0 lead. In the seventh, a Nix single and back-to-back RBI doubles by Stewart and Derek Jeter were followed by a Curtis Granderson single and Mark Teixeira walk to load the bases for Rodriguez's RBI forceout.
So, although they needed three relievers -- Chad Qualls, Clay Rapada and Rafael Soriano -- to put out a bases-loaded brushfire in the ninth, it was mostly a no-sweat night for the Yankees. Weather aside.