SEATTLE(AP) Good thing for the Yankees and CC Sabathia that the burly left-hander has the chest of an offensive lineman.
The $161 million ace ignored a scary comebacker just below his neck and collarbone for his 18th victory,
homered twice and drove in a season-high five runs and New York resumed their cruise to the AL East title with a 10-1 win
on Saturday night.
''When you are that big, it takes more than a line drive to get you out of there,'' Teixeira said of Sabathia, whose first
pitch after getting lined the chest in the fifth inning was a 96 mph fastball.
Sabathia (18-7), who was 1-3 in early May, allowed four hits and one run in seven innings to bolster his candidacy for the
AL's Cy Young Award. He walked two, struck out eight and tied
of St. Louis for the major league lead in wins.
He also kept New York six games ahead of second-place Boston for the division lead, with 13 games left in the regular season.
But the Yankees' playoff prospects flashed before their stunned eyes in the bottom of the fifth.
Sabathia was coasting while up 6-0, thanks to Teixeira's three-run homer in a four-run top of the fifth. Then
hit a liner high off Sabathia's chest. Manager
and a trainer rushed to Sabathia from the dugout, captain
ran in from his shortstop position, as did
from third base.
Girardi thought the ball hit Sabathia in the face. Teixeira thought it was the neck. For a moment, the key to New York's postseason
rotation seemed to be in jeopardy.
Nah. He simply winced, rubbed where the ball hit, talked for a minute, refused a test warmup pitch - and then shooed everyone
''There's sort of no treatment for getting hit in the chest,'' he said, smiling. ''Just go get 'em.
''Alex startled me a little when he said, 'Oh, my God!' That's when I was scared,'' said Sabathia, who predicted a big bruise
but vowed he'll start Friday against the
He finished the inning - and two more scoreless ones after it, retiring the last seven he faced. But he lost the shutout in
that fifth when Rodriguez skipped a rushed, one-hop throw way past Teixeira at first base on a ball hit by
. Gutierrez scored from first on the error.
''He had the best changeup I've seen in a long time,'' Seattle manager
His teammates were impressed.
''He's a horse. That's why he gets paid the big bucks,'' said
, who had three hits and has six in eight at-bats in the series. ''We hope he stays indestructible.''
Girardi was still sighing more than an hour after it happened.
''Yeah, that's a scary moment. You lose one of your starters, that could be devastating down the stretch here,'' the manager
said. ''We caught a break there.''
One night after closer
was stunned by a game-winning, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth by Seattle's
, the Yankees reduced their magic number for clinching a 14th postseason appearance in 15 seasons to two games. They could
make the playoffs as early as Sunday. Their magic number to clinch the division is nine.
Teixeira's five RBIs leaves the MVP candidate with 118, most in the AL. He is second in the AL with 37 home runs, two behind
His second home run, in the ninth off
, just cleared the wall in left-center field. Had it gone off it, he likely would have hit for his second career cycle.
''Overachiever!'' his teammates yelled at Teixeira when he returned to the dugout.
hit his 26th home run in the fourth, a towering drive off rookie starter
that had the large crowd gasping. He passed
for most homers by a Yankees' designated hitter in a season. It was also his 86th RBI. Matsui had arthroscopic surgery on
his knee last Sept. 22 and has had his knee drained multiple times this season, and Girardi said before the game he may not
have been able to predict such production this season for the 35-year-old.
Fister (2-3) allowed nine hits and six runs in four-plus innings. The 25-year-old allowed half that many runs when he beat
New York on Aug. 16.
NOTES: Sabathia improved to 6-1 at Safeco Field. He also regained the AL lead in innings from Seattle's
. Sabathia has thrown 220 1-3. ...
, Seattle's $48 million starter, allowed two hits, a walk and a run while getting two outs in the eighth. It was his first
appearance since a start on May 6. He missed 114 games while on the disabled list with a bum shoulder. ... Teixeira's triple
in the first inning was his third in the last five games. He had none in his first 139 games this season.