On the day the Yankees found out that their prized off-season acquisition, Rafael Soriano, was going to be shut down indefinitely, C. C. Sabathia did exactly what they needed, giving the bullpen a day off by pitching a complete game.
The offense did the rest. The Yankees scored two runs in the eighth and two with two outs in the ninth — the final one on Mark Teixeira’s single — to rally for a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.
With one out in the ninth and the Yankees trailing by a run, Jorge Posada electrified the crowd with a double to right-center off Frank Francisco. He was given a standing ovation as he was removed for pinch-runner Chris Dickerson, who moved to third on a groundout by Derek Jeter.
Curtis Granderson singled home Dickerson to tie the score, then stole second base before Teixeira singled through the infield, scoring him to make a winner out of Sabathia (5-3).
Teixeira may have been the hero, but he credited Posada’s double with getting things started, saying: “That’s huge. If that doesn’t happen, it may not have ended up the way it did.”
Posada, who is hitting .183, said the victory could be a sign of good things to come.
“It can turn it around, it really can,” he said. “It’s a good feeling in here when you win a game like that.”
Sabathia, who retired the final 16 Toronto batters, outlasted the Blue Jays’ Ricky Romero, who pitched seven dominant innings but was let down by his bullpen.
It was just Sabathia’s second complete game in Yankee Stadium since he joined the Yankees three seasons ago, though he pointed out that on a team with Mariano Rivera, complete games are hardly necessary.
“When you’ve got a closer like Mo, eight innings is really a complete game,” he said. “So I just have to go out there and be able to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win.”
Russell Martin got the Yankees off to a good start in the second with a home run to left field. It was his ninth homer of the season, breaking a tie for most home runs by a catcher this season with Toronto’s J. P. Arencibia.
Sabathia then faltered a bit, giving the run back in the top of the third. He allowed sharp singles by Rajai Davis, Yunel Escobar and Corey Patterson before striking out Jose Bautista on a checked swing to end the inning.
Things became messy for Sabathia in the top of the fourth as the Blue Jays scored three runs, but then both pitchers settled down into the duel that many anticipated, with Romero facing just one over the minimum number of batters during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, and Sabathia pitching five perfect innings to close out the game.
In the bottom of the eighth, Granderson led off with a double. After a groundout by Teixeira and a strikeout by Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano doubled to score Granderson and came home on a single by Martin. The struggling Nick Swisher popped out to right field to end the threat.
On top of his gutsy performance, Sabathia seemingly found a way to deal with the red-hot Bautista, who hit his major-league-leading 19th home run Monday night. Bautista went 0 for 4, accounting for the final out in four innings.
“I just try to move it around; he’s a tough hitter,” Sabathia said of his success against Bautista. “I just try to throw strikes to all parts of the zone. It worked out tonight.”
It did not work out for Francisco, who blew his second save of the season
Toronto Manager John Farrell said: “To their credit, Posada jump-started their offense in the ninth with that double. We just couldn’t close it out.”
Soriano, who felt soreness in his injured elbow during his throwing session Monday, will be examined Wednesday by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. The Yankees are withholding the results of Soriano’s latest magnetic resonance imaging test until Andrews has had a chance to examine it.
The latest news seemed to concern Manager Joe Girardi.
“I really thought that we would have him getting ready to possibly go out on a rehab assignment shortly,” Girardi said before the game, “and that doesn’t seem to be the case now.”
Derek Jeter was the Yankees’ designated hitter. When asked before the game if it was a half-day for Jeter, Joe Girardi joked: “A half-day, yeah. Kids like half-days.” Jeter went 0 for 5 and remains 25 hits short of 3,000. ... Nick Swisher got the start in right field after two consecutive days off. Despite facing a left-hander, Swisher was unable to break out of his season-long slump, going 0 for 4 and lowering his batting average to .208. ... Reliever Dave Robertson will travel to his hometown, Tuscaloosa, Ala., after Wednesday’s game to survey hurricane damage and start a charity to raise money for recovery.