SEATTLE — Even though it came on a day CC Sabathia didn’t need much, he’s not going to complain about the run support he’s been receiving.
So far, at least, his teammates aren’t giving him grief about it.
“I don’t think anybody has realized it yet, but I know,” Sabathia said.
The Yankees ace continued his domination of the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, allowing just one run in eight innings, and Andruw Jones provided the big blow with a bases-clearing double as New York avoided a three-game sweep with a 7-1 win.
Sabathia (6-3) was again the Yankees stopper. He won for the third time in four tries when pitching after a loss, allowing just two hits through five innings before giving up a solo homer to Seattle’s Justin Smoak in the sixth inning.
He also won for the sixth straight time against the Mariners and improved to 8-1 in 11 starts at Safeco Field. He’s gone at least eight innings in his last three starts — all wins — and gave up just five hits and struck out five on Sunday.
In those last six starts against Seattle, Sabathia has a 0.82 ERA. He was helped by a double play he started in the fifth inning when Seattle loaded the bases with just one out and Ichiro Suzuki at the plate. Sabathia got Suzuki to tap into a 1-2-3 double play that ended the threat.
“He just knows how to pitch. He knows how to give us distance, he knows what to do and he takes it upon himself that ‘I’m going to go out and do it for you,'” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “When CC gets into a little bit of a jam there is no panic to him. He’s going to continue to execute pitches.”
Nick Swisher added his third homer of the season, this time leaving no doubt after being robbed of a homer on Friday night by Seattle’s Franklin Gutierrez. The Yankees knocked around Seattle starter Jason Vargas for six runs in just three innings and salvaged one game in the first stop of a three-city, nine-game West Coast trip.
And the Yankees nearly hit their average of run support when Sabathia is on the mound. He entered Sunday getting the second-most offensive help in the majors at nearly 7½ runs per game.
“It’s a step in the right direction. I’ve been working really hard and feel like I can get back to form,” Swisher said. “We’ve got our big boy on the mound. You feel like you give him more than two runs you’re going to win the ball game.”
Swisher lined his homer in the second inning into the Yankees’ bullpen to give New York an early lead for the third straight day. But it was Jones’ double off Vargas (3-3) that broke the game open.
The Yankees’ big inning started with Derek Jeter’s second walk, although he was later thrown out at home trying to score on Alex Rodriguez’s infield grounder. Catcher Chris Gimenez made a nice play to grab a high throw from Chone Figgins and get the tag on Jeter in time.
Jeter was the second out of the inning, but Vargas’ problems were just starting. Cano singled sharply to right to score Curtis Granderson and give Cano eight hits in 12 career at-bats against Vargas. Swisher then walked on a 3-2 pitch that barely missed the outside corner.
Vargas got ahead of Jones 1-2 before Jones fouled two straight pitches. Vargas then left a cutter over the outside corner and Jones drove it into the right field corner, although replays showed the inning should have ended with the Yankees ahead just 4-0. Swisher was tagged out on the elbow by Gimenez, but plate umpire Gerry Davis’ view was blocked and called Swisher safe.
Eduardo Nunez then followed with a triple to deep left-center and Jones trotted home before Vargas finally got out of the inning. The Yankees sent nine batters to the plate.
“He tried to backdoor a cutter and I just went out of the zone and put it in play,” said Jones, whose hit was critical after the Yankees failed to build on early leads the previous two nights. They added another in the fourth when Granderson scored on Mark Teixeira’s RBI single.
All three of Vargas’ losses have come at home and his home ERA ballooned to 4.75 after giving up the six earned runs on Sunday.
Vargas in the only Mariners pitcher this season to fail to go at least four innings. He also got rocked in their home opener against Cleveland was done after 3 1-3 innings that night.
NOTES: Yankees RHP Phil Hughes, on the 60-day disabled list, threw a second bullpen session on Sunday of about 30 to 35 pitches. He’s expected to take a few days off before throwing from the mound again as he comes back from shoulder inflammation. … Seattle RHP David Pauley got the day off after picking up wins in relief in the first two games of the series. He was the first pitcher since 2002 to win consecutive games in relief and throw at least two innings in both victories. … Yankees C Russell Martin was given the day off due to the quick turnaround, but also because he fouled a pitch off his toe and it was sore, Girardi said. … After barely being used for 10 games, Seattle’s bullpen pitched 15 innings in the three-game series and allowed one run.