CC Sabathia has been one of baseball's best pitchers in interleague games over the past three-plus seasons, helping the New York Yankees earn the most crossover wins during that span.
Sabathia looks to make the Colorado Rockies a victim for the second time in that stretch in the finale of a three-game series Thursday in Denver.
New York is a baseball-best 40-19 in interleague play since the start of 2010 after beating Colorado 3-2 on Wednesday. Vernon Wells hit a two-run homer and pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch had an infield RBI single in the ninth for the Yankees (19-13), who had lost three of four.
Wells even played third base in the final inning for the first time, making a play on a grounder.
"That was one of the cooler moments of my career," the 34-year-old Wells said.
A major reason for New York's interleague success has been the performances of Sabathia, who is 9-1 with a 2.40 ERA in his last 11 starts versus the NL. He has the second-most interleague victories in the past three-plus years behind Detroit's Justin Verlander (10).
Sabathia (4-3, 3.31 ERA) was stellar the only time he faced the Rockies since joining New York, allowing one run and striking out nine in eight innings of an 8-3 victory June 25, 2011.
The left-hander, though, is coming off his shortest outing since opening day, and frustrations seemed to boil over with home-plate umpire Jordan Baker. Sabathia allowed both runs and eight hits in six innings of a 2-0 loss to Oakland on Friday.
Though Sabathia exchanged words with Baker in the third inning, manager Joe Girardi felt he pitched well despite giving up a home run on the first pitch of the game.
"He only gave up two runs, and he gave up one before he got an out," Girardi said. "They fouled some pitches off. They got in some long counts, which made him throw a lot of pitches in the sixth inning, but I thought he threw OK."
Troy Tulowitzki , who went 2 for 3 off Sabathia in 2011 in their only matchup, entered Wednesday's contest as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning after being held out of the starting lineup for a second straight game due to leg soreness.
Though Tulowitzki, hitting .348, said he felt good running before the contest, manager Walt Weiss decided to sit him again given the poor weather conditions. The shortstop was hit with a pitch and promptly removed for a pinch runner.
"He's fine," Weiss said. "Curveball, just got him I think part of his helmet and might have hit his neck a little bit. Didn't hit him square."
Todd Helton hit a two-run homer for the Rockies (19-14), who have gone 6-10 since opening the season winning 13 of 17. They'll turn to starter Jeff Francis in hopes of closing the series on a positive note, though he's struggled of late.
Francis (1-2, 7.27) hasn't pitched more than five innings since his season debut, posting a 9.00 ERA over his last five starts. He gave up four runs in five innings of a 7-4, 10-inning loss to Tampa Bay on Friday.
"I felt like if I'd made some better pitches, we could have been ahead and won," Francis said. "I missed with a couple of pitches and it cost me some runs."
The left-hander won his only start against the Yankees on June 20, 2007, allowing one run and striking out nine in seven innings of a 6-1 victory.
|New York Yankees|
|May 05, 2013||Eduardo Nunez||Day-to-Day||Left game - tightness in left ribcage|
|May 03, 2013||David Robertson||Day-to-Day||Sore left hamstring|
|April 28, 2013||Kevin Youkilis||15-Day DL||Lumbar spine strain|
|April 28, 2013||Joba Chamberlain||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|April 27, 2013||Francisco Cervelli||60-Day DL||Fractured right hand|
|April 27, 2013||Ivan Nova||15-Day DL||Right triceps inflammation|
|May 07, 2013||Troy Tulowitzki||Day-to-Day||Sore groin|
|May 03, 2013||Troy Tulowitzki||Day-to-Day||Leg soreness|
|April 29, 2013||Troy Tulowitzki||Day-to-Day||Strained left shoulder|
|April 20, 2013||Jhoulys Chacin||15-Day DL||Left lower back strain|
|April 20, 2013||Todd Helton||15-Day DL||Left forearm inflammation|
|April 20, 2013||Jhoulys Chacin||15-Day DL||Left lower back strain|
DENVER (AP) -- CC Sabathia was rolling along until rain ruined his day.
The New York Yankees lefty had his good stuff going on this dreary afternoon. But the weather did what the Rockies couldn't - knock him out of the game.
No matter, his bullpen filled in just fine.
Sabathia and five relievers held Colorado to four hits, Robinson Cano cracked a solo homer and the Yankees beat the Rockies 3-1 on Thursday in a game that was delayed more than two hours by rain.
"I was just disappointed," Sabathia said.
That he didn't pitch more than four innings because of the weather?
"That I didn't get any more at-bats," said Sabathia, who was 0 for 2 at the plate with two strikeouts. "Horrible. I'm sure my son will be all over me. I'm scared to go home."
Sabathia tried everything to stay loose during a delay that lasted 1:59, just in case the storm clouds quickly moved out of the area. He even made some tosses in the batting cage.
Eventually, the storm did pass, but it was too long a layoff to send him back out to the mound. The first pitch also was delayed by wet weather, for 8 minutes.
Sabathia was just finding his stride when the skies opened up, too. Mixing in a 91 mph four-seam fastball with a stealthy slider, he retired 11 straight after giving up a single to Troy Tulowitzki in the first inning.
A stream of relievers picked up where Sabathia left off. Adam Warren (1-0) earned his first big league win by getting five big outs after the rain delay. Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth to remain perfect in 13 save chances.
Now, if only Warren could locate that final baseball. It would make a nice memento.
"Working on that," he said. "It's pretty neat."
This was a series dominated by pitching, a departure from the reputation Coors Field has earned over the years. The Yankees outscored the Rockies 6-5 - pretty much a typical one-game score in this park - as they took two of three.
"It's crazy," Sabathia said. "It's just good pitching. Just one of those things."
Cano had a memorable afternoon that included an infield single in the third for his 1,500th hit. He also hit the 186th homer of his career, moving past Paul O'Neill for sole possession of 17th place on the franchise list.
"The biggest thing today was the win," Cano said. "You want to win games and be able to help the team, get on base, and it was just a good win."
Jeff Francis (1-3) threw four innings and gave up two runs before rain forced the umpires to signal for the tarp. The lefty didn't return when play resumed.
"It's hard to get frustrated with the weather. You just have no control over that," Francis said. "It's the same for both teams. Something happens and you try to make the best of it.
"They're a good team, but we expected more out of ourselves this series."
Vernon Wells had an RBI single in the first for New York and Chris Stewart drove in another run on a sacrifice fly.
Tulowitzki was back in the lineup after missing the previous two days with soreness in his legs. He wasn't in his customary cleanup spot but hit No. 3 in the order as manager Walt Weiss elected to flip-flop the All-Star shortstop and Carlos Gonzalez against the left-handed Sabathia.
Tulowitzki was 1 for 3 with a walk, while Gonzalez wound up 0 for 3 and struck out twice. Gonzalez drove in the Rockies' lone run with a sacrifice fly in the first.
"Our pitching was outstanding. Offense was definitely subpar," Weiss said. "Not acceptable."
New York took the lead for good in the fourth when Stewart's sac fly brought home Chris Nelson , the former Rockies infielder who led off the inning with a double. Cano added his team-high ninth homer an inning later.
Colorado tied it in the second when Dexter Fowler beat the throw home on Gonzalez's sacrifice fly to left. Fowler eluded Stewart's tag just long enough to reach his hand around the catcher's shin guards and touch home plate.
Stewart was a little upset over the call, thinking he applied the tag in time. Yankees manager Joe Girardi came out of the dugout to briefly argue with plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.
Cuzzi also was involved in a close play at first base in the ninth inning Wednesday, when he ruled Brennan Boesch safe on an infield single that brought in the go-ahead run during the Yankees' 3-2 win.
New York jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the series finale when Wells laced an RBI single to right. Wells also had a productive game the night before when he hit a two-run homer, scored the go-ahead run in the ninth and then filled in at third base for the first time in his big league career.
Rest assured, Wells isn't planning a position change after playing flawless third base. But if the occasion should arise again, he would gladly take over at the hot corner.
"I take ground balls everywhere, so I'm ready for anything," Wells said.
NOTES: New York SS Eduardo Nunez (left ribcage tightness) said he hopes to play on Friday. ... Yankees OF Curtis Granderson (broken right wrist) was to begin a rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. ... Sabathia threw 51 pitches, breaking a string of 13 straight starts in which he reached the 100-pitch mark. ... Weiss was asked if he thought Rivera's strike zone seemed to expand in the ninth Wednesday. "I'm not allowed to comment on those things, am I?" he said. "I'm a little green in this position, but I'm smart enough to know that one."