Blue Jays' Norris notches first win, spoils Sabathia's return
By Gregor Chisholm and Bryan Hoch
NEW YORK -- Daniel Norris worked 5 2/3 solid innings to pick up his first big league win and Edwin Encarnacion homered late as the Blue Jays spoiled CC Sabathia's return to the big league mound, posting a 6-3 victory over the Yankees on Thursday evening at Yankee Stadium.
Alex Rodriguez hit his 655th career home run, a solo shot to left field in the sixth inning, and Mark Teixeira also cleared the fence to highlight the Yanks' production off the 21-year-old Norris, who was making just his second career start. The left-hander permitted three runs and six hits, walking two and striking out five. More >
Toronto produced four runs and five hits in the second inning against Sabathia, who hadn't pitched in the Majors since May 10. The veteran settled down following a frame that featured run-scoring hits by Kevin Pillar and Jose Reyes, striking out eight over 5 2/3 innings. Encarnacion's eighth-inning homer, his second of the season, came off Esmil Rogers.
"I didn't really feel any nerves," Norris said. "If I did, it was probably last night, but I just wanted to go out there and give my team a chance to win. … Normal anxiousness just before every start, but it was pretty normal."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Four on the floor: The Blue Jays peppered Sabathia for four runs in the second inning, doing most of their damage on the ground. Toronto loaded the bases on three singles and Pillar punched a run-scoring hit to left field. A pair of run-scoring groundouts followed before Reyes knocked another RBI single into left field, bringing home the fourth Toronto run. It was an unsettling opening for Sabathia, who is returning from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
"A bad inning got away from us. I wish I could have stopped the bleeding right there," Sabathia said. "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."
A-bomb for A-Rod: Promoted to the No. 2 spot in New York's lineup, A-Rod hit his first home run of the season off Norris in the sixth, a solo shot to left field on a 1-0 count. The homer was the 655th of his career, drawing within five of Willie Mays (660) on the all-time list, and it marked Rodriguez's first since Sept. 20, 2013, off the Giants' George Kontos. Teixeira also homered in the inning, marking his 1,000th career run scored and 500th RBI as a Yankee. More >
"We talked about it in Spring Training. Anything that I do this year is going to be kind of a surprise to everyone -- sometimes even myself," Rodriguez said. "That one felt good to get us on the board and start a little momentum."
Whiff city: Trailing by four runs after the second inning, Sabathia found his groove and kept the Blue Jays off balance, striking out six of seven through one stretch and wrapping the evening with eight strikeouts. His final pitch was a broken-bat Danny Valencia single to right field that resulted in Toronto's fifth run, as Beltran committed the Yanks' third error in three games when his throw eluded Headley at third base. More >
Blue Jays' bullpen bounces back: The bullpen cost the Blue Jays a victory on Wednesday night but it bounced back in the series finale. Right-hander Roberto Osuna tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings, which included a pair of overpowering strikeouts of Rodriguez and Beltran. Lefty Brett Cecil, who lost his closer's job earlier in the day, pitched a scoreless eighth before rookie Miguel Castro picked up the first save of his career. More >
"I like how Russ [Martin] put it, when he came in. He said, 'Guys, we're still undefeated. We won the first game, we beat ourselves the second game and we won the third game.' That's absolutely true, we beat ourselves in the second game. Games like that are going to happen. You move on, have a short-term memory and get them next game." -- Cecil
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When Jacoby Ellsbury was caught stealing second base to end the third inning, it ended a streak of 16 successful attempts by the Yankees outfielder. That was the longest active streak in the Major Leagues, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Jose Bautista went 0-for-12 this series despite entering the three-game set batting .344 (11-for-32) with a .512 OBP, seven home runs and 13 RBIs in his final 10 games against the Yankees in 2014.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Left-hander Mark Buehrle will get the start when the Blue Jays visit the Orioles on Friday afternoon at Camden Yards. Baltimore will counter with right-hander Bud Norris and first pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET as the Orioles celebrate their home opener. Buehrle is 3-5 with a 4.24 ERA in 11 career games against Baltimore. The game will air free on MLB.TV.
Yankees: Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (6-14, 4.37 ERA in 2014) is scheduled to make his Yankees debut on Friday, taking on the Red Sox in the opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium. Boston counters with left-hander Wade Miley (8-12, 4.34 ERA in 2014), making his Sox debut, for the 7:05 p.m. ET contest, which will be televised on MLB.TV.
is a reporter for MLB.com.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.