In his first start back from the disabled list Tuesday, CC Sabathia retired the first two Blue Jays batters. But all was not right.
First, Jacoby Ellsbury ran down Jose Bautista’s drive to the left-centerfield wall in front of the 399-foot sign. Then Ellsbury ran down Russell Martin’s drive to the right-centerfield wall in front of the 385-foot sign.
Sabathia got through 2 2⁄3 perfect innings on moxie and guile, but then the roof caved in. Six consecutive Blue Jays reached base, four of them scored, and Sabathia’s day was done. The Yankees went on to a 4-1 loss before 44,018 at Yankee Stadium.
Since they were a season-best 15 games over .500 on June 12, the Yankees have gone 6-15.
“It’s the injuries, of course,” Sabathia said. “We haven’t had a full lineup in a couple weeks now. That makes it tough.”
Manager Joe Girardi, asked if there was any connection between the Yankees’ slide and Sabathia’s three-week absence, said: “I don’t know. There’s a lot of days I’d like to play God, but I’m not going to today.”
Sabathia (7-3) had been out since June 15 with a left hamstring strain. The Yankees decided not to have him throw a minor-league rehab start. Girardi said he was hoping for five innings and 75-80 pitches from the lefthander. He got neither.
“I didn’t have a problem with his stuff,” Girardi said. “I just felt like maybe he started to overthrow a little bit.”
Sabathia retired the first eight batters before walking Darwin Barney with two outs in the third inning of a scoreless game. After a wild pitch, Bautista ripped an RBI single to right.
Martin singled, Josh Donaldson walked to load the bases, and Justin Smoak walked to drive in a run. Kendrys Morales followed with a two-run single to left on Sabathia’s 63rd and final pitch to give Toronto a 4-0 lead.
All three walks came on 3-and-2 pitches.
“I just think I couldn’t finish,” Sabathia said. “I got two strikes on a bunch of those guys and didn’t make the right pitch to get out of that inning. It’s frustrating with two outs and giving up four runs. Hopefully, I’ll be better at that next time out — finishing innings.”
Aaron Judge hit his major league-leading 28th home run leading off the fourth inning against J.A. Happ to make it 4-1. Judge’s laser to left-center traveled an estimated 465 feet into the ambulance bay between the visiting bullpen and Monument Park.
But it was only good for one run. Judge had a chance to tie the game in the fifth when he came to bat with two outs and two men on. Happ struck him out on a 96-mph, 3-and-2 fastball.
“He was getting up there in pitch count,” Judge said. “He’s going to come after you. You just can’t miss your pitch and I fouled it right into Martin’s glove. He got me that time.”
Happ (3-5) went six innings and allowed one run and four hits. He walked two and struck out six, including the last three batters he faced.
Judge nearly had a second chance to tie the game in the seventh. He was on deck and there was a man on first with two outs when Brett Gardner was called out on strikes on what appeared to be a low and inside pitch on 3-and-2.