First homer puts Yanks over hump vs. Jays
Gardner's drive adds to lead after three-run first; Jeter passes Molitor
TORONTO -- When the Manhattan skyline comes into view for the Yankees' charter flight, the occupants of that jet will be able to look ahead to Monday's home opener with a sense of satisfaction about how they handled business on the road.
After starting the season with two losses in Houston, including an Opening Day flop from CC Sabathia, the club -- and its ace left-hander -- straightened things out. Sabathia turned in a better outing and the Yankees posted a 6-4 victory on Sunday at Rogers Centre, earning a split of their six-game trip.
"It's the beginning of the season; everyone's trying to get adjusted," Sabathia said. "To be able to split the first of these games is good, going home. Hopefully, we can carry some momentum into Yankee Stadium and try to win the first of these series."
It took until the fourth inning of the Yanks' sixth game for a Bombers batter to hit a home run, and the shot came from an unlikely source: speedy Brett Gardner, who caught up with a slider from Toronto right-hander Drew Hutchison and lashed a two-run homer over the right-field wall.
"I don't think anybody bet on that," Gardner said. "The guys just gave me a hard time. I didn't even realize we hadn't hit a home run yet, to be honest. It's good to get the first one out of the way. I've got a feeling we'll hit a couple in New York."
It was just the fifth time since 1923 that the Yankees had not cracked a homer in their first five games, and the first since 1990, when Mel Hall hit the club's first homer in its eighth game of the year.
"I figured one would come eventually," Derek Jeter said. "Gardy sneaks some in every once in a while."
The drive was part of a six-run thumping that the Yanks put on the 23-year-old Hutchison, knocking him out after 3 1/3 innings and stuffing a lead into Sabathia's back pocket, allowing the big lefty to pitch more aggressively with his fastball.
Kelly Johnson had a two-run double and Jacoby Ellsbury contributed an RBI groundout in the first; Yangervis Solarte had a run-scoring ground-rule double in the fourth.
"Just not hitting his spots; he was not executing the pitches in locations that he wanted to," Toronto catcher Erik Kratz said of Hutchison. "He wasn't sharp. He battled to give us what he had."
Jeter celebrated a milestone, passing Paul Molitor for sole possession of eighth place on the all-time hits list with singles off Hutchison in the third and fourth innings.
Even Alfonso Soriano was able to get in on the action; after starting the season hitless in 17 at-bats, Soriano stroked a fifth-inning single off reliever Todd Redmond.
"It's going to take everybody, and we know that," manager Joe Girardi said. "Even though we have some younger guys, we still have some age on our team, and it's going to take a combination of some players if we want to get to where we need to get."
Blue Jays leadoff hitter Melky Cabrera continued his torrid series by slugging a leadoff home run off Sabathia, further extension of a fluky bugaboo that has seen opposing leadoff hitters go 6-for-6 with three home runs in the Yanks' first six games.
"I thought maybe it was a good thing," Girardi joked. "We saw it happen to [Masahiro] Tanaka [on Friday], so I said, 'Maybe it will work for CC, too.'"
And it did, in a way. Sabathia said that he had been too amped up when he surrendered six runs to the Astros on Opening Day, but he was able to calm his nerves and settle in this time.
Sabathia retired 16 of 17 Jays through a stretch, leading him to the sixth inning. With two outs and none on, Sabathia ran into trouble, surrendering four straight hits that allowed the Jays to score three runs and get back in the game.
Jose Bautista's bloop single started the damage, and the next three hits were smoked on the carpet, with Dioner Navarro cracking an RBI double and Kratz lashing a two-run single.
"It felt pretty good," said Sabathia, who walked none and struck out six in a 93-pitch outing. "I'd take two pitches back in that sixth inning, but other than that, I felt I pitched pretty good."
Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley each pitched scoreless innings out of the Yankees' bullpen to get the ball to closer David Robertson.
After breezing through the ninth inning in the first save opportunity of the post-Mariano Rivera era last week in Houston, Robertson made things a little more interesting this time. He pitched around a single and a walk before getting Cabrera to line out hard to right field, a final out that sent the Yanks home happy.
"To be able to go home 3-3 after starting off 0-2, we'll be excited to get back home," Gardner said. "I know our fans will be excited to see us. We're excited to get back to New York and hopefully have a good homestand."