New York Yankees' CC Sabathia points at the Tampa Bay...

New York Yankees' CC Sabathia points at the Tampa Bay Rays dugout after he was ejected for hitting Tampa Bay Rays' Jesus Sucre with a pitch during the sixth inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Credit: AP/Chris O'Meara

BOSTON – He saw it coming.

CC Sabathia received a five-game suspension Saturday for intentionally hitting the Rays’ Jesus Sucre with a pitch on Thursday afternoon. Sabathia also was fined an undisclosed amount, MLB announced. The suspension will not impact Sabathia's status for the postseason.

“I felt like I knew something was going to come down,” Sabathia said after Saturday’s 8-5 victory over the Red Sox.

Sabathia hit Sucre in the left thigh in retaliation after Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge threw a pitch behind the head of Austin Romine. Kittredge received a fine and a three-game suspension.

“I’m fine with it,” said Sabathia, who is appealing the suspension. “Hopefully it gets knocked down. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

If any part of the five-game suspension is upheld, it will be served next season.

When he was ejected for hitting Sucre, Sabathia -- who likely will start Game 4 of the ALDS if the Yankees get that far --  was two innings shy of triggering a $500,000 bonus for reaching 155 innings this season. He said he isn't interested in pitching those innings Sunday.

“Nah, man, the season’s over for me,” he said, laughing. “I’m ready for the lights to come on.”

Sticking with ‘em

Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks both returned from injuries and played Friday night. Aaron Boone initially planned to rest the pair Saturday, but it didn't work out that way. Both were in the starting lineup.

“I was considering having them both down today but they were both wanting back in there,” Boone said. “Maybe an abbreviated day for those guys potentially, but the fact they came out feeling as well as they did last night was a really good sign.”

Boone pinch ran Tyler Wade for Hicks in the fifth after a leadoff single and replaced Gregorius  with Adeiny Hechavarria in the bottom of the inning. Hicks and Gregorius each went 1-for-3.

Tarpley still opening eyes

Rookie Stephen Tarpley, who Boone has said is very much “in the conversation” for a postseason roster spot as a lefty specialist, came in with one out in the second to face  lefthanded-hitting Andrew Benintendi as part of his audition Saturday. After a double steal put runners on second and third, Tarpley got Benintendi to fly to short center, not deep enough to drive in a run. Tarpley struck out lefthanded-hitting Brock Holt swinging with a full-count sinker to end the inning. 

Go ask him

Red Sox first baseman Steve Pearce, who has owned J.A. Happ throughout his career, hit  a grand slam off the lefthander Friday night. That improved Pearce to 11-for-32 with six homers in his career against Happ.


“I don’t know. Why don’t you go over there and ask him why it’s so easy for him?” Happ said good-naturedly about why Pearce has had so much success against him. “Because I’d like to know. That might be better. Let me know what he says.”

Embracing the rivalry

Yankees fans have had a love/hate relationship with Giancarlo Stanton this season, but there’s been nothing to criticize when it comes to his performance against the Red Sox. Stanton went 3-for-4 with a double and a homer Saturday, giving him a .371/.423/.700 slash line, five homers and 17 RBIs in 18 games against  Boston in 2018. He has a  .486/.487/.811 slash line in nine games at Fenway.

Extra bases

The Red Sox and Yankees both have won 100 games for the first time in major-league history ...  The Yankees have won nine of their last 12 games to move a season-high 39 games over .500. They have hit 10 home runs and scored 31 runs in their last three games and have hit 14 homers and scored 47 runs in their last five ... The Yankees improved to 63-15 this season when hitting at least two homers … They improved to 9-9 against Boston this season and have won four of the last five contests …. Among the five AL playoff teams, the Yankees have the best record against the other AL qualifiers (Boston, Cleveland, Oakland, Houston) at 22-16 … Miguel Andujar leads all rookies with 169 hits, 46 doubles, 75 extra-base hits and 92 RBIs ... A total of 39 players got into Saturday's game.

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