NEW YORK -- It was the kind of economical effort that a younger version of Carsten Sabathia never would have entertained, instead preferring to rear back and blow high-90s heat past an opposing lineup. Yet as he continues a late-career renaissance, the Yankees left-hander has discovered that pitching can be
NEW YORK -- It was the kind of economical effort that a younger version of Carsten Sabathia never would have entertained, instead preferring to rear back and blow high-90s heat past an opposing lineup. Yet as he continues a late-career renaissance, the Yankees left-hander has discovered that pitching can be much more fun than throwing.
Mixing his cutter, changeup and slider well, Sabathia showcased his pinpoint command over six excellent innings, and the Yankees saw their bats continue to heat up with another four home runs, enjoying an 8-3 romp over the Twins on Tuesday evening at Yankee Stadium that marked their fourth straight victory.
Asked how his younger self might have responded to the effort, Sabathia said, "He'd laugh, for sure. I never thought that I would be pitching, I guess. It's just a different feel. It's a lot of fun, though. I used to just get the ball and throw it. It's good to have a plan and execute it."
• Sanchez homers twice; Judge hits 7th HR
Gary Sanchez homered twice, Didi Gregorius extended his team lead with a two-run shot and Aaron Judge slugged a solo drive in support of Sabathia, who limited Minnesota to an unearned run and two hits as he improved to 20-9 lifetime against the Twins.
The Yankees logged their seventh win in nine games behind the 37-year-old left-hander, who picked up his first victory of the year. Sabathia was touched only by Eduardo Escobar's first-inning double, with Miguel Sano chugging home as Judge had difficulty scooping up the ball in the right-field corner.
From there, Sabathia stifled the Twins, firing 82 pitches before the Yankees handed the game off to the bullpen. Sabathia walked one and struck out four, giving him 2,858 career strikeouts, passing Jim Bunning (2,855) for sole possession of 17th place all-time.
"That cut fastball, he's really got a great feel for it," manager Aaron Boone said. "It's become a great pitch for him and allowed him to be successful deep into his career. He threw some good changeups, and he's got that back-door breaking ball he can flip in there. He was really good tonight."
Twins starter Jose Berrios was knocked around for five runs and six hits in four-plus innings. Sanchez homered in the second, and Gregorius lifted an RBI single in the third and added a two-run homer in the fifth, giving him a team-leading eight long balls. Gleyber Torres also notched his first career RBI with a fourth-inning single.
Dellin Betances wobbled in a shaky seventh inning but the Yankees responded with three runs in the home half against Tyler Duffey. Judge slugged his seventh homer, surpassing Mark McGwire as the fastest player to reach 63 homers in terms of games played (204). Sanchez tacked on a two-run shot to become the first player to enjoy nine multihomer games in his first 196 games.
"I think our offense is amazing," Sabathia said. "It's special, because at any point they can do what they did tonight. I'm very confident in the offense any time they go out there. It's fun. It's always exciting. You never know who's going to hit a ball hard or go deep. The lineup is so deep that it's a lot of fun to watch and be a part of."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gregorius homered for the third straight game, teeing off for a fifth-inning blast that sent Berrios to the showers. The Yankees worked deep counts against Berrios all evening, running up his pitch count and ensuring he wouldn't complete the fifth. Gregorius is 20-for-48 at home this season.
"I've had some good months, but it's not about the past," Gregorius said. "It's about what I can do right now. That's what I'm trying to do right now, try to stay consistent and help the team." More >
With Sanchez's two homers, the Yankees are the first team in Major League history to record seven individual multihomer games within the first 22 games of a season.
Sonny Gray will take another crack at turning around his slow start on Wednesday when he takes on the Twins in the third game of this four-game series at 6:35 p.m. ET. Gray will pitch to catcher Austin Romine, with whom he worked in his first two outings this season. Right-hander Lance Lynn draws the start for Minnesota.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.