ANAHEIM -- Wednesday wasn’t CC Sabathia’s night, but the Yankees salvaged something out of it. The veteran lefty made his third start of the season looking for just six strikeouts to reach the lofty milestone of 3,000 as he winds down his long career. Instead, Sabathia gave up three home runs, two to Andrelton Simmons, and left after the fifth inning three strikeouts shy.
The Yankees, however, were just getting going at that point. The Bombers rallied for six runs in the final three innings to snag a 6-5 come-from-behind win over the Angels at Angel Stadium.
The Yankees (14-10) won their sixth straight and clinched their third straight series win. They’ll look for the four-game sweep over the Angels (9-16) Thursday night.
D.J. LeMahieu went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs, including the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. He scored Tyler Wade, who had a two-out single and a stolen base to get in scoring position.
That offensive comeback led by LeMahieu and three scoreless innings from Jonathan Loaisiga out of the bullpen salvaged what started out to be a very disappointing night. With much of his family having flown in from New Jersey and Northern California, Sabathia struggled early. He was chased after five innings with the Yankees trailing 5-0.
He allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits. He struck out three and did not walk a batter.
Sabathia will get another chance next week. If the Yankees keep their current rotation and don’t avoid having the 38-year old with an arthritic knee bat in an interleague game, Sabathia is scheduled to start Wednesday in Phoenix.
He will go into that game with 2,997 career strikeouts and plenty of chances to add to his Hall of Fame case over this, his final season.
It is a nice round number and Hall of Fame voters love those. Of the 16 pitchers with 3,000 strikeouts ahead of Sabathia, only two Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens are not in the Hall of Fame. Both of those pitchers have baggage that voters consider on top of their numbers.
Sabathia would be the third lefthander to cross the mark, joining Randy Johnson, the power lefty he looked up to as a young player, and Steve Carlton.
“I am not not a numbers guy, but 3,000 is a big number. Only 16 have done it. Very few lefties,” Sabathia said. “It’s cool, especially that short list of lefties. To join that list would be cool.”
But he still has to get those three strikeouts.
Perhaps it was too much to ask for Sabathia to do it against the Angels, the team that has the lowest strikeout rate (16.7%) in the majors. In the Angels’ first 24 games of the season, the opposing starter had struck out six only four times.
And early on, Sabathia was clearly fighting himself. His fastball was sitting in the 88-89 mile an hour range and the Angels jumped all over him.
Simmon’s first-inning solo home run was the first run that Sabathia had allowed this season. The Angels’ shortstop’s second home run sparked a four-run rally in the fourth that was capped by Kole Calhoun’s three-run dinger.
It was the 17th time in his career that Sabathia had allowed at least three home runs in a game.
He struck out Jonathan Lucroy swinging to leadoff the second inning and then in the fifth got Mike Trout looking and Simmons swinging.
The Yankees started to rally in the top of the sixth after being lifeless for the first five innings. Gleyber Torres’ leadoff single in the fifth was the first hit the Yankees managed off Cam Bedrosian, who opened and struck out two hitters in one inning, and Felix Peña, who struck out eight Bombers over five innings.