Yankees 8, Mariners 2
CC Sabathia doesn't mind being a spectator at the All-Star game, even if his resume in the first half of the season is more than deserving of being the American League's starting pitcher.
Sabathia allowed one run in seven innings and won his eighth straight decision, and New York roughed up the Seattle Mariners for an 8-2 victory Sunday. The Yankees head into the All-Star break with baseball's best record.
Despite his stellar stats, Sabathia will have to watch the Midsummer Classic in Anaheim. A new rules disallows any pitcher who started Sunday from participating in Tuesday's game. His spot on the American League roster was given to Detroit's Justin Verlander.
But Sabathia might be the best pitcher in the AL as the break arrives.
''I had a pretty good second half in Milwaukee a couple years ago,'' Sabathia said. ''There's still a long way to go, still a lot of baseball left so I just wanna keep going.''
With his victory over Seattle, Sabathia (12-3) joined Tampa Bay's David Price as the only 12-game winners in the American League. In his last eight starts, Sabathia has gone at least seven innings and given up three earned runs or less in all eight. His win on Sunday made Sabathia the first Yankee to win eight straight starts since Roger Clemens in the 2001 season.
''He's that type of pitcher, when he gets on a roll, when things get right he can be extremely effective,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ''He's using all his pitches, his velocity has been great, his location has been great. He's in a good groove.''
The World Series champions are 56-32 and have a two-game lead over the Rays in the American League East. New York has won nine of 11.
After starting the season a pedestrian 4-3, Sabathia has been dominant since the beginning of June. His eighth straight victory looked easy against the punchless Mariners. After consecutive singles from Casey Kotchman and Justin Smoak in the second inning, Sabathia set down the next 11 before Michael Saunders' single leading off the sixth.
Sabathia struck out one and walked one. Only once did Seattle put together any sort of rally when three consecutive hits plated the Mariners' first run in the sixth inning. Chone Figgins had the RBI single that scored Saunders. Kotchman added a solo homer in the ninth.
Meanwhile, the Yankees knocked around Seattle starter Ryan Rowland-Smith for six hits and six runs in just four innings. Rowland-Smith (1-9) wasn't helped by two errors that allowed two unearned runs in the first inning.
Mark Teixeira is one of the few Yankees stars not headed to the All-Star game, but is rolling as the break arrives. Teixeira went 4 for 5 on Sunday with two doubles - once helped when Saunders lost a fly ball in the sun. Since June 8, Teixeira is hitting .316, with 11 doubles, nine homers and 26 RBIs.
''I do want to take a break, but at the same time hopefully when I get back I will still be swinging the bat well because I do feel pretty good up there right now,'' Teixeira said.
The Mariners looked more than prepared to for a three-day break to try and forget a miserable first half. The expectations of contending in the AL West were long ago replaced by the debate of if the Mariners will lose 100 games for the second time in three seasons.
First inning errors by Jose Lopez and Figgins set the tone, accentuated by three wild pitches and a hit batter by Rowland-Smith. Seattle enters the All-Star break having lost 9 of 11.
''Right off we make some errors to make Rowland-Smith have to get five outs in the first inning. I thought he was a victim more than anything,'' Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. ''There were some tough conditions with the sun, but that is no excuse for the errors early in the game.''
NOTES: Sabathia is the first Yankee since Mike Mussina in 2002 to win at least 12 games before the All-Star break. ... Seattle LHP Erik Bedard played catch on Sunday, will throw a bullpen in Anaheim next weekend and still may have a minor league rehab assignment as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery. ... Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a sixth-inning single. ... Yankees TV analyst John Flaherty, a former big league catcher, caught a foul ball on the fly in the booth.