NEW YORK (AP) — At least CC Sabathia was honest.
The big left-hander tossed eight stingy innings against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, leading the New York Yankees to a resounding 8-3 victory and becoming the first big league pitcher to reach the 10-win plateau this season.
“I wish I could say it meant something, but it don’t,” he said with a shrug and a sly smile. “We’re here to win championships. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
The way he’s been pitching, the Yankees should have a pretty good chance.
A dozen pitchers began the day with nine wins, but Sabathia (10-4) won the race to double digits. The former Cy Young winner allowed one run while striking out nine, improving to 19-7 all-time in interleague play. That win total makes him baseball’s active leader.
Sabathia has lost once since May 14, pitching into the seventh inning every time.
“He’s the same guy every day,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He just goes out and pitches and wins ballgames. That’s what he does.”
Sabathia threw just 103 pitches Saturday, but Girardi decided against letting him finish the game. Buddy Carlyle promptly gave up Ty Wigginton’s two-run homer in the ninth.
Seth Smith drove in the Rockies’ only other run with a pinch-hit single in the eighth.
“CC shone tonight. He was good,” the Rockies’ Jason Giambi said. “He had a great tilt on his slider. I had a hard time picking up betweeen slider and fastball. He hid the ball really well, and he was lights out tonight, and that’s what he normally does. He’s there big ace.”
Alex Rodriguez drove in three runs, Mark Teixeira added a two-run homer for New York, Jorge Posada had three hits and the Yankees pounded out 15 total. Everybody in their starting lineup had a hit off starter Aaron Cook (0-3) except Robinson Cano, who went 0 for 4 for the second straight game.
“Those guys scoring runs makes it smooth,” Sabathia said. “I felt like I needed to put my foot on the gas today, go out and be aggressive and throw strikes.”
The Yankees lost the series opener 4-2 on Friday night, and together with a series sweep four years ago at Coors Field, had lost four straight to the Rockies.
They didn’t waste any time jumping ahead Saturday.
Brett Gardner laid down a perfect bunt toward third on Cook’s first pitch and Wigginton didn’t even bother making a throw to first. Gardner swiped second base with ease, then sped home when Curtis Granderson dribbled a single through the right side of the infield.
Outfielder Eric Young bobbled the ball and Granderson wound up at second. The error proved costly moments later when A-Rod’s base hit gave New York a 2-0 lead.
Granderson and Rodriguez helped add three more runs in the third.
New York’s hot-hitting outfielder started off with a blooper to left, and Teixeira followed with a rocket to center that put runners on second and third. A-Rod then went opposite field for a two-run double, and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Swisher, sliding head first to beat the throw from Ryan Spilborghs at the plate.
“For a right-handed thrower, that’s a tough throw,” Rodriguez said, “so I took a chance.”
Back-to-back doubles by Swisher and Posada made it 6-0 in the sixth.
Most of that offense was unnecessary with Sabathia on the mound, though that’s been the norm this season. His run-support average is the highest in the major leagues.
It helped that Rockies manager Jim Tracy seemed to concede defeat.
He took star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki out in the seventh inning, and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and leading hitter Todd Helton left the game in the eighth.
By then, the Rockies had squandered their best scoring opportunities.
Spilborghs led off the fifth with a double and reached third base before Sabathia wiggled out of trouble. In the sixth, Young and Helton opened with consecutive singles before Tulowitzki grounded into a double play and Giambi went down swinging.
“When you’re facing a guy the magnitude of CC Sabathia, you can’t give them a four or five-run head start,” Tracy said. “That’s just a very difficult chore to come back from.”
NOTES: Cook allowed six runs, five earned, on 12 hits in 5 2-3 innings. … A-Rod said his right knee is bothering him, though not enough to prevent him from playing. … Derek Jeter (right calf) took 27 swings off a tee and 30 swings of soft toss Saturday at the Yankees’ spring training complex. … Rockies closer Huston Street was unavailable after saving Friday night’s win. Tracy said there was some soreness in Street’s groin area.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)