NEW YORK -- Carsten Sabathia's world has changed immeasurably in the 6,375 days since his Major League debut against a lineup that featured Cal Ripken Jr. and Brady Anderson. As the innings odometer swelled, his rock-and-fire velocity diminished, necessitating a more cerebral method of attack. This remains constant: He could
NEW YORK -- Carsten Sabathia's world has changed immeasurably in the 6,375 days since his Major League debut against a lineup that featured Cal Ripken Jr. and Brady Anderson. As the innings odometer swelled, his rock-and-fire velocity diminished, necessitating a more cerebral method of attack. This remains constant: He could defeat Baltimore then, and he still can.
Sabathia hurled six innings of two-run ball, picking up his 20th career victory against Baltimore as the Yankees withstood a late surge in a 10-8 win on Friday evening at Yankee Stadium, reducing their magic number to secure a postseason spot to two. They can clinch that as soon as Saturday with a combination of a Yankees victory and a Rays loss.
Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks belted two-run homers in support of the 38-year-old left-hander, who has now tallied 20 or more career wins against four separate big league franchises.
"It just means I've been pitching a long time," said Sabathia, who reiterated his desire to continue playing in 2019. "I didn't know that. Just pitching in the same division for a long time. It's crazy, the journey. It's been awesome."
Gregorius cracked a first-inning drive and Hicks went deep in the fourth as the Yankees hung six runs on rookie right-hander Yefry Ramirez. Both blasts landed in the second deck in right field, shortly after general manager Brian Cashman stood outside the home clubhouse and said he was proud of the big-swinging lineup that he and his staff had assembled.
"They've provided so much excitement for us and the ability to dream about being the last team standing, but they're not perfect," Cashman said. "We like home runs, we like on-base percentage. Yeah, we don't like strikeouts, but that's just how it's played out. It's not something that's going to change. It's part of who we are and it's in our DNA."
Gleyber Torres and Austin Romine also drove in runs off Ramirez, who has allowed 16 to the Yankees in 15 2/3 innings (9.19 ERA) since he was traded by New York to Baltimore in July 2017.
Sabathia blanked Baltimore through four innings before Adam Jones notched a two-run single in the fifth. Striking out five and retiring the last four hitters he faced in a 97-pitch effort, Sabathia now has 20 or more career wins against the Royals (21), Tigers (21), Twins (20) and Orioles (20). No other pitcher who debuted since 1990 has accomplished that feat.
"I think just anytime coming down the stretch, you want to pitch well, be performing well going into the playoffs and have confidence going in," Sabathia said. "The more we play together as a whole unit, we'll keep getting better and better."
Andrew McCutchen added a seventh-inning RBI single and Luke Voit knocked home another two runs, which improbably became important as the Yankees withstood three late homers against the bullpen.
Only DJ Stewart's eighth-inning blast off Player Page for David Robertson came against a pitcher who is likely to appear on the postseason roster; Austin Wynns hit a seventh-inning homer off Jonathan Loaisiga and Renato Nunez took A.J. Cole deep in the eighth for a two-run shot.
Aaron Judge provided breathing room in the eighth with a run-scoring double. Dellin Betances worked the ninth for his fourth save.
"Our really high-leverage guys, a few of them were down tonight," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "That made it a little bit dicey, and that's part of it. You've got to be able to piece it together at times. Tonight wasn't a great night for us in that regard, but I'm not overly concerned because I feel like the guys that we're going to go to in the big spots are all physically in a pretty good place."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Judge's baserunning play in the seventh inning set up Voit's knock that accounted for the Yankees' eighth and ninth runs. Judge got caught in a three-toss rundown between third base and home plate on a fielder's choice, long enough for Gregorius and McCutchen to advance to second and third base, respectively.
"He played such a complete game out there tonight," Boone said of Judge. "He was good in the field, a big baserunning play there that kind of gets lost in a 10-8 game where he gets in that rundown and does a really good job of setting up the second-and-third situation again. Just so many things he was able to do tonight, along with some good at-bats. Absolutely good to see him get some results, too."
The Yankees have five players with 25 or more home runs this season, equaling a franchise record set in 2009. In addition to Gregorius (27) and Hicks (25), the club boasts Giancarlo Stanton (35), Judge (26) and Miguel Andujar (25). Torres (23) is within striking distance of the milestone.
"That just shows you what this team can do," Gregorius said. "We don't rely just on one person. It's a whole team. Everybody is working and trying to get better."
The Yankees continue their final home series of the regular season at 4:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, as right-hander Lance Lynn prepares to make his ninth start (10th appearance) for New York. Lynn saw the Orioles in his Yankees debut on Aug. 1, when the veteran hurled 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. The Yanks are 5-3 in his starts. Right-hander David Hess (3-10, 5.22 ERA) will start for Baltimore.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.