Awakened offense & CC end 4-game slide
With one swing of the bat in the fifth inning Saturday night, Chase Headley gave the Yankees more runs than they had scored in each of the prior four games. The two-out, three-run home run off a 3-2 changeup from Royals lefthander Danny Duffy broke a 1-1 game and sent the Yankees toward ending that four-game losing streak.
Headley’s fifth home run of the season was more than welcome to CC Sabathia, who has suffered from lack of run support this year. The 6-foot-7 lefthander rewarded all his teammates with his finest start of the season for his second straight winning decision.
Before Headley’s bomb, the Yankees’ only run was the result of three walks and a sacrifice fly (by Carlos Beltran). They did not get a hit until the fourth inning, a bloop singe to left field against an overshift by Stephen Drew, in keeping with the recent offensive drought. In the previous four games, the Yankees’ run totals were 1, 1, 2 and 2.
The Yankees showed a healthy sign when with two outs in the fifth Mark Teixeira and Beltran singled. Headley took care of the rest, jumping on a full-count lollipop from Duffy, who has struggled this year (5.87 ERA).
Against a lineup that totaled 12 runs and 17 hits the night before, Sabathia was masterful, even in the inning in which he allowed a run. The Royals loaded the bases on three straight singles in the third, an inning that might have been a disaster, but a sacrifice fly by Mike Moustakas was the extent of the damage. CC kept the other runners on base with strikeouts of 3-4 hitters Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer.
Sabathia used his fastball inside to right-handed hitters and his slider to left-handed swingers in limiting the Royals to six hits and no walks with five strikeouts in seven innings. Over the years, he built a reputation as a breaker of losing streaks, and Sabathia did that precisely Saturday night.
Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller each pitched a shutout inning of relief to preserve the victory for Sabathia. Miller lost a shot for a save when Alex Rodriguez made the score 5-1 with a home run in the top of the ninth.
There were other positive signs as well, such as two hits apiece by Beltran and Drew. Didi Gregorius, who entered the game late as a defensive replacement, got to bat in the ninth and ripped a double down the right field line.
If the Yankees are going to maintain their lead, now two games, in the American League East, they are going to need contributions across the board.