Alex Rodriguez hit a game-winning, two-run home run to rightfield (career home run #595) to break a 2-2 tie in the eighth, giving CC Sabathia his 10th victory of the season. The Yankees, shut down by Mariners’ co-aces Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez on back-to-back nights, defeated Seattle, 4-2, to avoid being swept.

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Initial Reaction:

After Lee and Hernandez pitched complete game gems on two-straight nights, the Yankee bats didn’t exactly breakout against Thursday’s starter, Ryan Rowland-Smith. Instead, it was the Yankees who got a gem out of their ace Thursday afternoon. Sabathia, who improved to 10-3 this season, took a three-hit shutout into the eighth. There, a leadoff walk and an untimely passed ball by catcher Jorge Posada led to Russell Branyan’s two-run single that tied the game 2-2.

In the bottom half of the eighth Mark Teixeira singled with one out, looking to get something going. On an 0-1 pitch Rodriguez deposited the ball into the seats in right, chasing in Teixeira and regaining the Yanks’ lead for good.

Robinson Cano homered in the fourth inning, his 16th of the season. He leads all hitters with a .353 batting average this year.

Positives From The Game:

Another great game on the mound by the Big Fella. Sabathia took a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning, and his final line was: 8 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 walks and 4 strikeouts.

A-Rod’s A-Bomb was another at-bat where Rodriguez came up big in a big spot. When he comes to the plate in a tie game, he’s batting .303 (23-for-76) so far this season.

Negatives From The Game:

0-for-9: The Yankees’ seven through nine hitters (GrandersonGardnerPena) went a combined 0-for-9 with 2 K’s.

Interesting Facts:

Sabathia improved to 11-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his last 15 starts at home since last year’s All-Star break. It’s the longest active winning streak of its kind in the majors.

In his last three starts CC has thrown 8 innings in each, allowed a total of just two earned runs, and struck out 17.

A-Rod’s home run was his 250th home run with the Yankees, tying Graig Nettles for eighth place on the Yankees’ all-time list.

Cano’s big fly was his 10th homer off a left-hander this year, the most in the majors.

Quote Of The Day:

“We ran into a wave of great pitching here on Friday and Saturday. Friday and Saturday, right? The last two nights. That’s how bad they had us. Today’s Thursday,” Rodriguez said, drawing laughs.

What’s Next?:

The Yankees begin a three-game home series with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Friday, 1:05 PM, YES: Brett Cecil (7-5, 4.39 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (6-7, 5.25 ERA)

Last Start:
Cecil: Loss, 4 2/3 inning, seven runs (five earned), five strikeouts (at Phillies)
Burnett: Loss, 3 innings, six runs, five strikeouts (at Dodgers)

Career Stats:
Cecil vs. NY: 1-1, 6.19 ERA (three starts)
– 0-0, 17.18 ERA in one career start at The New House.
– 5-3, 3.71 ERA in eight road starts this season.
Burnett vs. TOR: 0-1, 9.00 ERA (one start)
– 3-2, 3.46 ERA in six starts at Yankee Stadium this season.

Pray for Good A.J.