Sabathia leads cadre of aging Yanks who rattle Tigers

David Goricki
The Detroit News
New York starting pitcher CC Sabathia works in the fourth inning. Sabathia pitched six innings allowing four hits with three earned runs, four walks and three strikeouts.

Detroit — New York’s Oldies but Goodies came through for the Yankees Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park, pounding out an 8-4 victory over the Tigers on a freezing day at Comerica Park.

It was a meaningful win for veteran left-hander CC Sabathia who checked himself into an alcohol treatment center last October, missing the Yankees’ wild-card playoff loss to the Astros.

Sabathia looked healthy and ready to help the Yankees, earning the No. 5 starter spot in the Yankees’ rotation by the end of spring training and then becoming the first New York pitcher to register a quality start this season. He was perfect through the first three innings with his mother, wife and friends watching on.

Sabathia walked three of the first four batters he faced in the bottom of the fourth, then gave up a two-out, two-run single by James McCann before getting Mike Aviles on a deep fly to left to leave the bases loaded.

Sabathia worked six solid innings, getting taken out after a leadoff single by Jose Iglesias in the seventh. He was far from overpowering in his quality start, but mixed his pitches well and gave up three runs, four hits and four walks while striking out three.

Sabathia was aided by 14 hits and the eight runs, which gives the Yankees (3-2) an MLB-high 35 runs.

“It feels good to pitch in a big-league game, on a big-league mound and for us to come out with a win,” said the 35-year-old Sabathia . “My cutter was good, my change-up was decent in the second half of the game.”

When asked who he planned on sharing the win the most with, Sabathia replied: “My wife and my mom were there every step of the way. Obviously, these guys in here (teammates) were great, but they (wife, mom) were kind of that rock for me during that tough time so it will be good to see them tonight and go to dinner.”

It was Sabathia’s 199th career start with the Yankees and 215th career win. It was the first time a Yankees’ starter pitched six innings this season. He worked his way out of trouble in the fifth when he had the first two batters reach base before getting Justin Upton to ground into a 1-4-3 double play, then a ground out by Miguel Cabrera to end the inning.

“That lineup is probably I think one of the best in baseball so any time you get some runners on you have to make some pitches and we were able to do that, and got lucky,” said Sabathia, pointing out his two-seam fastball betrayed him during the fourth, but his change-up came through in the fifth, getting Upton to ground out into the double play.

Tigers pitcher Buck Farmer stands on the mound while Yankees' Carlos Beltran heads for home on his two-run home run in the fifth inning to make it 8-2 Yankees.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was impressed with Sabathia.

“He’s been kind of a slow starter (in April) so to do that against a lineup that has really big right-handed bats I thought that was impressive,” Girardi said.

“I thought it was big for him. With what he went through, and having to walk away when he did I know was very difficult on him. But, I believe he made the right decision. His health and his family’s well-being takes precedence over this and for him to be able to come and win the game today, six months later I think is really important to him. We’ve had his back and the guys in that room had his back and he gave us a big start today.”

Oh, Sabathia wasn’t the lone aging former All-Star to make an impact for the Yankees.

Forty-year-old Alex Rodriguez drilled a line drive home run in the opening inning off of right-hander Mike Pelfrey — who was making his Tigers’ debut — for his 688th career homer.

Carlos Beltran, who will turn 39 later this month, belted a two-run homer into the right field bleachers in the fifth to open up an 8-2 cushion. It was his 394th of his career.

The Tigers (3-1) retired Beltran with their shift when Aviles, the third basemen, fielded his grounder in short right and threw him out in the seventh.

Beltran, with the Tigers shift on against the left-hander in the fourth, slapped an opposite field single to left.

Twitter: @DavidGoricki