CC's Yanks take what Mets give them
Ace drives in run during pivotal three-error second inning
NEW YORK -- As CC Sabathia popped fastballs in the visitors' bullpen at Citi Field on Friday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi admitted to his worries, wondering if the dugout telephone would suddenly start ringing with the worst possible scenario.
Feeling strong and well-rested, Sabathia had bad news for the opposition only. The left-hander hurled seven strong innings and even contributed a run-scoring single as the Yankees defeated the Mets, 9-1, in the first Subway Series game played at the new Queens ballpark.
"You're always trying to just look ahead and move forward," Sabathia said. "We had a tough last couple of weeks with these Interleague series, and we just look to keep pushing and take the momentum to the All-Star break."
The game was marked by a historic milestone, as Alex Rodriguez blasted career home run No. 564 in the eighth inning off reliever Elmer Dessens, surpassing Reggie Jackson -- who was in the building -- for sole possession of 11th place on the Majors' all-time homer list.
"It's nice -- it feels good," Rodriguez said. "And the fact that he's here is also very nice. It's good to win another game and play like we expect."
Brett Gardner had a career-high five hits for the Yankees, who took advantage of a three-error second inning by the Mets to jump out to a 4-0 lead in support of Sabathia before piling on to complete a barrage that has included 28 runs in the past three games.
Sabathia recorded just four outs in his previous start, last Sunday, throwing only 28 pitches before catcher Jorge Posada notified the bench that something didn't look right with the Yankees' $161 million ace.
Though Sabathia pleaded that the tightness in his left biceps was nothing to worry about, the Yankees weren't about to take that chance, and so Sabathia had plenty of bullets ready to unload as the crosstown rivalry entered its second chapter this season.
"You never want to come out of the game or miss a start and put that kind of stress on the bullpen, but I definitely felt a lot better today," Sabathia said. "The ball was coming out free and easy, so I have to say it was kind of like a blessing in disguise."
Girardi said that he exhaled when he saw Sabathia hitting 95 mph early in the game. Focused on keeping his mechanics sound and the ball down with some extra juice behind it, Sabathia said he never had time to realize that through 12 batters, he was working on a perfect game.
Former Yankee Gary Sheffield broke up the bid by slugging a solo home run to left field leading off the fifth inning, and Sabathia remarked to himself that he hadn't worked out of the stretch until Fernando Tatis legged out an infield single one batter later.
"I didn't really realize it until Sheff hit the homer," Sabathia said. "I always tell you guys that every pitcher knows that he has a no-hitter, but I was just trying to work on my delivery and make sure I got the ball down because I had so many days off. I was feeling real good and just trying to make sure I stayed within myself."
The southpaw held the damage to just that one run, scattering three hits while walking none and striking out eight.
It was just the second start of Sabathia's career in which he pitched at least seven innings, allowing three hits or fewer without surrendering a walk. The only other previous time was on July 7, 2006, when Sabathia hurled a three-hit shutout against the Orioles.
"He was pitching a great game," Sheffield said. "That's probably the hardest I've seen him throw in a long time."
Sabathia was able to cruise after the Yankees got to starter Mike Pelfrey for four runs (two earned) in the second inning. Melky Cabrera opened the inning with an infield single and moved up on a throwing error by third baseman David Wright.
Ramiro Pena -- subbing for an ill Derek Jeter, sidelined with a hacking cough -- brought Cabrera around with a one-out bloop double to left field, and Sabathia followed by grounding an RBI single up the middle to stake the Yankees to a 2-0 lead. With the hit, Sabathia improved his lifetime batting average to .269 (24-for-89).
"I love to hit when I have no pressure," Sabathia said. "I wouldn't want to hit for a living, but just to get up there and hack and have fun, it's something that brings you back to being a kid. It's something I love to do."
Two more errors helped the Yankees push that lead to four runs, as shortstop Alex Cora threw away a Johnny Damon grounder and first baseman Nick Evans couldn't handle a Mark Teixeira grounder, allowing Gardner to score.
The Yankees piled on against the Mets' bullpen, scoring five unanswered runs after the seventh inning. The barrage was highlighted by Rodriguez's milestone, his second home run in as many games, but Gardner also clubbed a solo homer earlier in that inning off Dessens. He added an RBI triple in the ninth inning off Sean Green to finish 5-for-6.
"I just got lucky the first couple at-bats, got some balls to fall in," Gardner said. "Then I managed to take advantage of some pitches to hit later in the game."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.