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CC Sabathia Better Than Outcome Indicates In Yankees' Loss

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — CC Sabathia kept the ball on the ground. Alex Rodriguez hit one high in the air.

Just like old times — except for the final score.

Rodriguez hit his first home run since serving a yearlong drug suspension, but the Toronto Blue Jays beat Sabathia and the New York Yankees 6-3 Thursday night in the first major league win for eccentric rookie Daniel Norris.

Edwin Encarnacion homered and the Blue Jays got RBI singles from Jose Reyes and Kevin Pillar in a four-run second inning against Sabathia.

"Got away from the game plan. I have to control both sides of the plate," Sabathia said. "I threw the ball pretty good. I just got away from going in to keep them off of the soft stuff."

Toronto took two of three in the season-opening series, boosting its record at Yankee Stadium to 7-30 since May 24, 2011.

Sabathia threw 68 of his 95 pitches for strikes. He gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits, though none left the yard.

"I'm not taking anything away from the Blue Jays," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But I thought (Sabathia) threw the ball a lot better than what it looks like."

"It's something to build on," Sabathia said. "No walks. Not a lot of good contact. I think I threw the ball pretty good, it was just bad luck."

On another raw and rainy night in the Bronx, the 39-year-old Rodriguez led off the sixth by launching a high fastball deep into the left-field seats for his 655th homer.

Rodriguez, moved up to second in the lineup against a lefty, tossed his bat aside and rounded the bases without any fanfare, though the drive invigorated a sparse crowd announced at 32,152.

"I felt like I needed a Google map to run the bases, it's been so long," Rodriguez said. "Anything I can do this year is going to be a surprise, even for me."

It was A-Rod's first home run since Sept. 20, 2013. The three-time MVP ranks fifth on the career list, five behind Willie Mays.

Mark Teixeira homered off Norris (1-0) one out later, cutting it to 5-3, but Encarnacion hit a long drive against Esmil Rogers in the eighth that banged high off the wall behind the bullpen in left-center, some 430 feet or so from home plate.

Sabathia (0-1) was much more impressive than his pitching line would indicate. Coming off right knee surgery in July and making his first start since last May, the big lefty threw his fastball 88-90 mph but had good downward tilt on his slider. He struck out eight and walked none in 5 2-3 innings.

"He didn't give up any hard hits," Girardi said. "They just found some holes."

Sabathia ran into some tough luck in the second, when the Blue Jays grounded four singles through the infield and scored four times. He had a chance to start a double play in the middle of it all, but Danny Valencia's comebacker deflected off his glove for an infield single that loaded the bases with none out.

"I could have stopped the bleeding right there," said Sabathia, who made little effort to cover first base on grounders to the right side. "I had the double-play ball. I just put my glove on it. It was one of those things where we couldn't stop the bleeding in the second inning."

Norris pitched in short sleeves on a 42-degree night with his parents in the stands. The 21-year-old received plenty of attention in spring training for his unusual, rustic lifestyle — he was living out of his 1978 Volkswagen van in a Wal-Mart parking lot and cooking on a portable stove.

Hardly what you would expect from a second-round draft pick who got a multimillion dollar signing bonus.

But the Blue Jays are hoping for big things on the mound from Norris, who went 12-2 and led the minors in strikeouts per nine innings last year. The left-hander from Tennessee featured a crisp fastball and polished off-speed pitches during 5 2-3 effective innings.

"The main focus is baseball. Winning ballgames, like tonight," Norris said. "So if I can keep going out there performing like I did tonight, hopefully I'll put that stuff behind me."

Miguel Castro pitched a perfect ninth for his first career save.


Toronto added a run in the sixth on an error by right fielder Carlos Beltran, though his one-hop throw to third was on time and right on line and should have been handled by Chase Headley.

Didi Gregorius had an RBI single for his first hit with the Yankees, but was thrown out after rounding first base too far. It was his second baffling baserunning gaffe in three games with New York down by several runs.


Three left-handed hitters were rested: Brett Gardner, Brian McCann and Stephen Drew. After batting seventh in the first two games, Rodriguez was in the No. 2 hole. "I like the way he's swinging the bat," Girardi said before the game. "He's done really well."


The first meeting of the season between the Red Sox and Yankees features a pair of pitchers new to the old rivalry. Boston LHP Wade Miley, acquired from Arizona in December, starts at Yankee Stadium against New York RHP Nathan Eovaldi, obtained from Miami a week later.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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