The Yankees took it to reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell for six first-inning runs and didn’t look back in a 6-1 victory, completing a three-game sweep of the Rays.
The victory was CC Sabathia’s 250th career victory, making him just the third left-handed starter to reach both 250 wins and 3,000 strikeouts (Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson).
Here’s the best from the milestone victory.
1. The Yankees’ offensive peak is exhaustingly good
The pinstripers didn’t put a single man on base between the second and sixth innings, but it didn’t matter in the slightest after what they did in the first inning.
Eleven batters up, six men score and a Cy Young winner grinded to a pulp. That’ll do.
It started with a swinging bunt from DJ LeMahieu that allowed him to reach. Snell then just missed the zone and walked Luke Voit, bringing up El Gary in a big spot.
Unfortunately for Snell, Sanchez’s 21st homer of the year was just the start of things. He went up 0-2 on Edwin Encarnacion, then walked him seven pitches later. He got his one out, a force out on Aaron Hicks, before issuing back-to-back walks to Gleyber Torres and Cameron Maybin.
Snell threw 39 pitches, 19 for strikes and was felled by a patient Bombers lineup, in addition to an uncharitable home plate umpire in Tom Woodring. He left with three in and the bases juiced.
Rookie Colin Poche relieved him and hit Gio Urshela in the foot in a grind of an eight-pitch at-bat. Brett Gardner popped out, but that brought up the RISP MVP in LeMahieu
Voit could have made things even worse for Tampa, but a catcher’s interference went uncalled. In total, the Yankees saw 57 pitches in the first inning, ran Snell’s ERA up to 4.40 and gave Sabathia all the lead he could handle.
2. CC looks his best in weeks
In his fourth attempt, Sabathia finally got his 250th victory. The southpaw must have figured out what was plaguing his cutter during his last few outings as he was able to command the game from nearly the get-go.
After two hard-hit balls led off the game, he dominated. Whether it was the lead, a re-worked pitch or something else, he had the Rays just off balance. He even struck out the side in the third inning.
Sabathia struck out seven and allowed just one run over six innings. He allowed six baserunners yet held the fort when there were two outs or men in scoring position.
In his last outing, he allowed a series of barrels and was surrendering loud contact. Though there were some well-hit pitches, they were primarily grounders or with no one on.
His only jam came in the fifth inning as he walked two batters and gave up the bloopiest of bloop doubles, 55.3 mph off the bat. However, he held his composure and got Austin Meadows to pop out.
Sabathia’s cutter was in full effect. He got no swings and misses on 26 offerings, but there was an average of 79 mph off those hit into play. He finished with 12 swings and misses totalwith at least three each on his slider, changeup and sinker.
Finally, he took Tampa Bay’s lefties out of the game. Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi and Meadows can really hit, but they had a single walk between them in eight appearances against CC.
3. Bombers may have started to separate themselves
In the seventh inning, the Yankees finally put more men on base … way more. LeMahieu and Voit walked and Sanchez hit a ball 116 mph for an RBI double. Encarnacion singled and Hicks walked, which led to Torres’ game-clinching grand slam.
Extending the game to 12-1, the Yankees separated themselves in the game from the Rays and also in the standings. They’re up 3.5 games on the Rays, four in the loss column. They’re up either eight or nine losses on Boston depending on tonight’s results.
That makes this weekend key. Hold your own against the Astros and you can start picturing how you fit with Houston and Minnesota atop the AL rather than continually peeking over your shoulder at the Rays and Red Sox. That’s not to say that you can forget about them: They’re both highly-talented and will make runs.
But this weekend starts to show how a fully operational death star looks.
- Torres’ grand slam was his first of his career. Meanwhile’ Sanchez’s homer extended the Yankees’ streak to 22 straight games with a homer. They’re three away from the 1941 franchise record.
- With the Yankees up 11 runs, Brett Gardner still dove headfirst into first base to get a hit in the seventh inning …and it worked. Then the Rays challenged it and lost. LMAO. Gave Gardy his lone hit of the game, so good for him?
- Twelve runs on nine hits looks weird. Yankees drew seven walks, suffered one HBP and had every hitter reach base at least once safely. They didn’t score against position player Daniel Robertson in the eighth.
- Jonathan Holder put his first two men on base with a 6-1 lead in the seventh, then got two strikeouts and a weak flyout. Perfectly cromulent.
- And Luis Cessa completed the game with two 1-2-3 innings.
The Yankees ride a five-game winning streak into a four-game set with the Houston Astros, losers of four straight. It’ll be an opener game with Chad Green (1-0, 3.00 ERA since May 12) and Nestor Cortes Jr. (1-0, 3.79) facing Framber Valdez (3-2, 2.77).
It will be a 7:05 p.m. EDT start on YES. There are scattered thunderstorms all day, so it may be a rainout.