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Yanks' offense lets Sabathia cruise to win

10/01/2012 11:38 PM ET
By Joe Auriemma

The Yankees broke out in a big way on Monday night, in a must-win situation. With ace CC Sabathia on the hill and their slugging first baseman back in the lineup, the Yankees were poised for victory. The Red Sox continued to sputter into oblivion as Clay Buchholz and company failed to play spoilers to their arch enemy.

The Yankees scored nine runs in the second inning behind the stealth play of Robinson Cano, who is currently on one of the hottest streaks of his prolific career. The Yankees hit four home runs in the inning for just the third time in the history of their storied franchise, doing it on June 30, 1977 at Toronto and June 21, 2005 at home against the Rays. This time Cano, Curtis Granderson -- who tied his career high with his 41st home run, set just last season -- Russell Martin and the returning Mark Teixeira fueled the offensive outburst that buried any chance the Red Sox had of coming back with seven innings left to play.

“That was some kind of inning our guys put up, and it started with Robbie Cano,” Joe Girardi said after the game. “Obviously, you love that type of lead where you can go to work, and CC took care of it.”

Among the big storylines from the Yankees’ 10-2 drubbing of the Red Sox was the play of the aforementioned Cano, who has 18 hits in his last 29 at-bats over his last seven games, with seven doubles, a home run and eight RBIs.

“It's a great feeling,” Cano said of his current stretch of success, “not only about myself, but the whole team. Everybody’s contributing right now, and that's what you want. You want the whole team to get going.”

Sabathia did exactly what an ace does to preserve the win, giving Boston absolutely no chance to come back. He earned his 15th victory with his eight-inning, two-earned-run performance, which just happens to be his third consecutive eight-inning outing.

“He had all three pitches tonight,” Girardi said of Sabathia. “I thought his changeup was maybe one of the better ones we've seen from him through the course of the year.”

Sabathia also agreed with Girardi's assessment of his outing and the way he's pitching of late.

“I feel pretty good,” Sabathia said. “[The] changeup is making a big difference for me. Fastball command is really good. I was able to mix it up pretty good and keep guys off balance.”

There was some question as to whether Girardi would pull Sabathia out of the game with such a big early lead to save him in case he's needed on short rest for a possible Friday Wild Card game. There was an opportunity after six innings with Sabathia at 77 pitches to exit, but Girardi stuck with his ace for another two innings, trying to secure the sure win.

“I'm not worried about Friday,” Girardi said of his decision to stick with Sabathia. “I'm worried about today, and now that today is over, I'm worried about tomorrow.”

For the first time in months, the Yankees also had their full array of offensive weapons with Mark Teixeira back in the middle of the order. Teixeira, playing only for the second time since Aug. 27, hit that second-inning home run, giving the offense an extra threat as the postseason approaches. His time was limited in the game, as Girardi pulled him in the late innings, but just Teixeira's presence adds a whole new level of depth to an already very dangerous team.

Everything seems to be rounding into shape for the Yankees, who are getting the hottest stretch from their ace at the right time, a hot bat from their best all-around hitter and a little help from the Rays, who defeated the Orioles, 5-3, at Tropicana Field on Monday night. Tampa Bay’s win gave the Yankees a one-game lead in the AL East, lowering their magic number to clinch the division to two. The Yankees can actually clinch a spot in the American League Division Series on Tuesday night, with another win over the Red Sox and a Rays victory over the Orioles.

Before the game, the Yankees decided to switch out Ivan Nova in the rotation with David Phelps, who has been more consistent this season. There is now a longer leash for Phelps, and with a one-game lead in the division, the rookie has a chance to pitch a special game for his ballclub.

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