No matter what time the game starts these days, the New York Yankees are ready to win.
Mark Teixeira homered and drove in three runs, CC Sabathia recovered from a shaky start and New York extended its winning streak to seven Thursday night with a rain-delayed 6-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
“We expect to win every night,” Teixeira said.
Jorge Posada knocked in two runs and Phil Hughes tossed two perfect innings for his first major league save as New York increased its AL East lead to 2 1/2 games over idle Boston.
After sitting through a rain delay of 2 hours, 43 minutes, the Yankees overcame an early three-run deficit and handed rookie Vin Mazzaro (2-7) his seventh consecutive loss.
Eric Hinske‘s RBI single capped a four-run burst that put New York on top in the fourth. Riding a string of solid starts, the Yankees (58-37) are 7-0 since the All-Star break after opening 8-0 in the second half last year. They have won 20 of 25 overall.
“The starting pitching has been incredible,” Teixeira said.
New York’s 30th comeback victory of the season ended at 12:41 a.m. EDT.
Afterward, as part of their HOPE Week community service project, the Yankees hosted a mini-carnival on the field for kids with Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a rare genetic disorder that prevents people from going outdoors in daylight because any exposure to UV light causes serious burns and eventually eye and skin cancer.
The children and their families arrived from Camp Sundown after it was dark and were scheduled to have their run of the field until about 4 a.m.
The game was scheduled to make up an April 20 rainout, and the teams had to wait nearly 3 hours to start. The A’s might have wished they never did.
In the opener of a four-game series, last-place Oakland dropped its seventh straight against the Yankees. The A’s have lost 16 of 25 overall.
On a blustery night in the Bronx, Sabathia (10-6) allowed three runs in seven innings. He improved to 4-7 with a 6.09 ERA against Oakland, his favorite team while growing up in the Bay Area.
“I try not to let it play in my psyche, but they hit me well,” Sabathia said. “I gave up nine hits, so there’s definitely something going on.”
With manager Joe Girardi looking to rest 39-year-old closer Mariano Rivera after he saved five games in six days, Hughes got the ball in the eighth and never gave it up.
The right-hander, a converted starter, has thrown 22 consecutive scoreless innings and has not permitted a run in his past 15 outings since June 14.
“He’s taken to this role and really run with it,” Girardi said.
Hughes kept the game ball, joining one autographed by Rivera that now sits in a glass case in his locker.
“I don’t know what’s more valuable, Mariano Rivera‘s 500th or my first,” Hughes said. “It’s certainly a long way since spring training.”
Mazzaro, a 22-year-old right-hander from nearby Rutherford, N.J., grew up a Yankees fan and left 18 tickets for family and friends. By the time the game started, he thought his cheering section swelled to about 80.
The rain produced a sparse crowd, so Mazzaro’s clan could be heard from the front of the second deck on the third-base side, overlooking Oakland’s dugout.
“It was awesome pitching here, 20 minutes away from home,” Mazzaro said. “I was really excited. I was pumped. I think it kind of helped me a little bit. I was really focused out there.”
Mazzaro began his career with 17 2-3 scoreless innings, winning his first two starts, but he’s winless in his last eight. Showing a live arm, he struck out six in the first three innings before quickly unraveling.
“The second time through, we just picked out some better pitches to hit,” Teixeira said.
Trailing 3-0, New York solved Mazzaro in the fourth.
Johnny Damon reached on a hard-hit infield single and Teixeira drove a 3-0 pitch into the second deck in right for his 24th homer, tying him for the AL lead.
“We just took off from there,” Girardi said.
Alex Rodriguez walked and stole second, Posada hit a run-scoring double and Hinske’s RBI single with two outs put the Yankees ahead.
“I don’t swing 3-0 very much but when I do, hopefully I’m going to do some damage,” Teixeira said.
Derek Jeter worked a leadoff walk in the fifth, Damon singled and Teixeira hit an RBI double. Posada’s one-out single made it 6-3 and chased Mazzaro.
“It was cool facing those guys after watching them when I was growing up,” the rookie said.
Injured A’s starter Justin Duchscherer, a two-time All-Star recovering from March elbow surgery, could make a minor league rehab appearance Sunday for Class-A Stockton. He will be limited to 30 pitches over two innings, manager Bob Geren said.