Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Back on Track

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Back on Track

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- A pitcher in transition took the mound.

That's what Joe Girardi labeled CC Sabathia -- the $23 million ace of his staff -- before Friday night's game.

While the Yankees celebrated the return of Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis from long stints on the disabled list, they also hoped for the return of a vintage Sabathia -- and his velocity.

And all three men were heroes in the 4-1 victory over the first- place Boston Red Sox, delivering maybe the biggest win of the young season.

The Yankees snapped a season-high five-game losing streak. And in so doing, they allayed the building anxiety in the Bronx that was quickly growing into quiet desperation. They also pulled within one game of archrival Boston.

"All teams are going to go through [rough stretches]. That's the bottom line," Girardi said. "But I thought it was an important win."

For the Yankees and Sabathia (5-4).

The left-hander struck out 10 in 7 1/3 innings after his worst start of the season (seven runs in seven innings Sunday against Tampa Bay). He yielded only one run and six hits.

And Sabathia did not walk a batter, dominating with a fastball that reached 94 mph and averaged 92.58.

Meanwhile, the return of Teixeira and Youkilis changed the dynamic of the lineup.

Youkilis added an RBI single, and Teixeira scored a run in his season debut after drawing the team's first walk since Monday.

Teixeira, 33, returned after tearing a tendon sheath in his right wrist in spring training.

Youkilis, 34, played in his first game since April 27 after suffering a lower lumbar sprain.

Both were needed with the Yankees having scored a combined 10 runs in their previous five games.

And after zero walks in their past three games, the Yankees coaxed four Friday night.

"These guys grind out at-bats," Girardi said of Teixeira and Youkilis. "So I think their impact is big. It changes our lineup because it gives us a better balance."

Sabathia especially responded in front of 45,141 fans at the Stadium when the Yankees (31-23) needed him most.

He earned his first win in six starts.

"Once we got that lead, you could tell [Sabathia] wasn't going to give it up," Teixeira said.

"And he was upset at himself for giving up one run. …

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