NEW YORK (AP) — When CC Sabathia took the mound at the Los Angeles Angels on June 13, the New York Yankees were 38-23 and led the AL East by four games.
Sabathia limped off after four innings that night with a strained left hamstring and didn’t return until Tuesday, when he was chased during a four-run third inning. Kendrys Morales hit a two-run single that helped Toronto to a 4-1 win, stopping the Blue Jays’ five-game losing streak and sending New York to its 15th loss in 21 games.
“It’s been tough, just injury after injury,” Sabathia said. “It’s just a tough time for us right now, but we’ve got to battle through it. Everybody goes through this stuff. It’s a long season.”
Aaron Judge dented a metal casement above a door behind the left-center field wall with his major league-leading 28th home run, a drive that would have traveled 456 feet had it landed unimpeded, according to MLB’s Statcast. The liner rose only 59 feet above the field and was the fourth-hardest-hit homer of the season at 118.4 mph. Judge has the hardest at 121.1 mph and all of the top four.
That was the only run off J.A. Happ (3-5), who allowed four hits in six innings.
“He was tremendous today,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He battled, got some strikeouts, really gave us what we needed.”
A 20-game winner last year, Happ has won three of his last four decisions after losing his first four. He walked two and struck out six , including Judge on a foul tip with two on to end the fifth.
“That was a big out with the way Judge has been swinging the bat and how he’s seeing the ball,” Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said. “He got to 3-2 and Happ just kind of threw a little extra cheese on that one.”
Roberto Osuna pitched a perfect ninth to convert his 19th consecutive save chance and 20th overall this season, completing a four-hitter and the Blue Jays’ third win in 12 games.
New York had been 10-3 in starts by Sabathia, who was 5-0 with a 0.99 ERA in six outings before getting hurt. He lacked control in his return, throwing just 35 of 63 pitches for strikes, and allowed three hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings.
“I was just a little too hyped up,” Sabathia said. “Overthrowing a little bit.”
Sabathia retired his first eight batters before walking Darwin Barney, who took second on a wild pitch and scored on Jose Bautista’s single. Martin singled, consecutive walks to Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak on full-count sliders forced in a run, and Morales’ single finished Sabathia.
While Sabathia (7-3), Aroldis Chapman, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adam Warren have returned from the disabled list, Matt Holliday, Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro and Greg Bird are still sidelined.
“We started off hot. Everyone was healthy. We were firing all cylinders. Then a couple people went down,” Judge said. “You’ve got to keep battling, keep fighting, and everyone is going to get healthy here sooner or later and we’ll be back to where we need to be.”
The Yankees open the 2018 season at Toronto on March 29 and start at home April 2 against Tampa Bay, according to a details of the draft preliminary schedule obtained by The Associated Press. Games could be shifted because of national television.
Yankees first baseman Chris Carter was designated for assignment for the second time this season after going 0 for 2 and dropping a throw from shortstop Didi Gregorius, giving Bautista an infield hit in the seventh. The Yankees said they will bring up Ji-Man Choi from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre on Wednesday.
Judge needs one home run to tie Joe DiMaggio’s Yankees rookie record, set in 1936. Judge struck out in his other three at-bats.
IN THE PEN
Luis Cessa, relegated to the bullpen with Sabathia’s return, pitched 4 2/3 innings of five-hit relief.
Donaldson went 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts, extending his slide to 1 for 26.
Blue Jays: C Luke Maile was placed on the 10-day DL with right knee inflammation. … RHP Aaron Sanchez (blister) is likely to be activated from the DL after two minor league rehab starts and start at home against Houston on Friday. He has not pitched for the Blue Jays since May 19.
Yankees: Castro may miss the All-Star Game because of his strained right hamstring. Castro went on the disabled list June 27, and manager Joe Girardi said Castro won’t start running hard until Thursday.
RHP Michael Pineda (8-4) is slated to start Wednesday’s series finale for the Yankees and RHP Marco Estrada (4-6) for the Blue Jays. Pineda beat Houston last weekend to end a streak of three straight losses. Estrada is 0-4 in six starts since defeating Texas on May 27.
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