OAKLAND, Calif. — After CC Sabathia’s previous start, a brilliant seven shutout innings in Baltimore on May 4, Brian McCann took exception to the suggestion that the lefthander’s “ace” days are behind him.
“He is as good as they come,” McCann said. “He’s such a competitor, he’s going to find a way. We want him on the mound.”
Indeed, the 35-year-old seems to have found something.
Sabathia, who went on the disabled list a day after that Baltimore start with a left groin strain, returned Friday night and was nearly as good in an 8-3 victory over the incompetent A’s in front of 28,235 at O.co Coliseum.
Sabathia (3-2) allowed one run and three hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out a season-best eight in lowering his ERA from 3.81 to 3.41.
“He had everything working tonight,’’ McCann said. “Had them off balance from the first pitch . . . He’s capable of whatever. Check the back of his baseball card out. There’s not too many guys walking around with his resume and his heart and his determination to be great. You never count guys like that out.”
The lengthy outing was of particular importance, given that Joe Girardi hoped to stay away from Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Each had pitched in the previous two games, and only Chapman was available. “Really impressive,’’ Girardi said of Sabathia, “and I thought he got sharper as the night went on. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The Yankees (19-22), winners of three straight games for the first time this season and 10 of 15 overall, had 13 hits, including three doubles by Carlos Beltran and two-run triples by Ronald Torreyes and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Said Beltran, “We were playing bad baseball. It was reality. We needed to make an adjustment and do something about it, and thank God we’re doing it.”
Beltran, who drove in three runs for the second straight night, and Torreyes had the big hits in a five-run fourth that gave the Yankees a 5-1 lead.
The A’s (19-24), who committed three errors and misplayed several other balls, took a 1-0 lead in the second on Matt McBride’s two-out RBI single.
When Tyler Ladendorf pushed a bunt to the first-base side of the mound, Sabathia threw him out by a half-step, then stared down the No. 9 hitter while returning to the dugout.
The Yankees stranded five runners in the first three innings against Sonny Gray but knocked him out in the fourth.
Aaron Hicks walked with one out and took third on a single by Didi Gregorius (three hits). Torreyes then lined a fastball into the gap in left-center, a ball that centerfielder Coco Crisp seemed to get a bad read on, for a two-run triple to make it 2-1.
After Ellsbury reached on catcher’s interference — the fifth one he’s drawn this season, by far the most in the majors — a wild pitch made it 3-1.
After Gardner walked, Ellsbury went to third on another wild pitch. Beltran followed with a liner that sailed over the head of Crisp, who initially took a step in, for a two-run double that made it 5-1.
Beltran had an RBI double in the sixth and Ellsbury added a two-out, two-run triple in the ninth.
Perhaps Alex Rodriguez’s stint on the disabled list has been a positive for Beltran, whose legs are being saved by his role as the DH? “Sometimes doing less is good for you,’’ he said. “[But] I like to be in the outfield. I know people think I’m done in the outfield, but I love being out there. I feel like I’m more in the game.”