From the very first batter, the Oakland Athletics simply looked overmatched against CC Sabathia.
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Leadoff man Coco Crisp took an awkward cut at a fastball for strike three. Next, Rajai Davis was fooled by an offspeed pitch and almost fell over. Then, Kevin Kouzmanoff flailed at a slider.
A lot of weak swings and soft outs followed Thursday, as Sabathia pitched one-hit ball for eight innings to earn his major-league-leading 19th win. The New York Yankees beat the A’s 5-0 for a four-game sweep.
”It’s as good as it gets,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Sabathia (19-5) breezed on a steamy afternoon, nicked only by Mark Ellis’ clean single leading off the second. Jonathan Albaladejo completed the combined one-hitter in the ninth.
”I’ve always enjoyed pitching in hot weather,” Sabathia said. ”Keep the sweat going, keep my arm loose.”
The A’s barely touched him. After Ellis’ opposite-field stroke through the right side, the Athletics didn’t send another ball to the outfield until the eighth.
”We didn’t hit a lot of balls hard against him at all,” Oakland manager Bob Geren concurred.
Curtis Granderson homered twice as a fill-in for Nick Swisher, who left after one inning because of a stiff left knee. Jorge Posada homered off Dallas Braden (9-10) a day after an animated ejection, propelling the Yankees to their sixth straight victory.
New York increased its AL East lead over idle Tampa to 1 1/2 games. Oakland’s loss gave AL West-leading Texas a 10-game bulge, matching the largest edge in Rangers history.
Sabathia equaled his career high for victories and won his sixth start in a row overall. He’ll try for No. 20 next week at home vs. Baltimore.
”It’d be cool,” he said, quickly adding, ”We’re still trying to wrap up the division. It’s hard to think about personal accomplishments.”
The big lefty struck out five, walked three and exchanged a fist bump with Eduardo Nunez after the rookie third baseman made a nice play to start the sixth. Crisp fanned chasing 92-mph heat, the exact gametime temperature. The sun may be gone for Friday’s home game against Toronto, though, with Hurricane Earl expected to bring rain.
The sticky conditions didn’t seem to affect Sabathia, who stands 6-foot-7.
”This is a football player playing baseball,” Girardi said.
”I could see myself playing the offensive line,” Sabathia said.
Winning in the Bronx has become almost automatic for Sabathia — he’s 16-0 in 21 starts at Yankee Stadium since the 2009 All-Star break. Beating the A’s had been more of a problem — he began the day 6-8 with a 5.36 ERA in 20 career starts against them.
Braden left in the sixth inning with heat-related cramps. He allowed two hits and slowly walked to the dugout trailing 1-0. He was coming off a four-hit shutout at Texas.
Braden said his legs began feeling shaky in the fourth, a problem he’d never had before.
”It feels like you just pulled your hamstring 20 times in a row,” he said.
Braden started against the Yankees for the first time since his dustup with Alex Rodriguez on April 22 in Oakland. A-Rod angered Braden by crossing the mound while returning to first base after a foul ball, and the two later sniped at each other and the A’s sold T-shirts printed with ”Get Off My Mound.”
Braden and Rodriguez have since patched up their differences. They didn’t face each other this time, with Rodriguez on the disabled list.
Posada launched his 17th home run in the second. He trotted past third-base umpire Dana DeMuth without incident — a night earlier, Posada was ejected by DeMuth after arguing a called third strike, then drew a line in the dirt with his bat to show where the pitch was wide.
Braden bent over after a pitch in the sixth, and suddenly there were a lot of people on his mound, including Geren and a trainer. Jerry Blevins relieved and recorded an out before throwing a pitch, trapping Derek Jeter off first base.
Granderson followed with a solo homer, then hit a two-run shot for his 17th homer in the seventh. This was his sixth multihomer game.
NOTES: Sabathia won 19 with the Yankees last year and also did it in 2007 with Cleveland. … The Yankees posted their first four-game sweep over Oakland since 1985. New York went 9-1 against the A’s this year. … Swisher is listed as day to day. … Rodriguez (left calf) took batting practice and felt good. LHP Andy Pettitte (groin) will throw a simulated game Saturday.