TORONTO -- With the Yankees looking to improve their standing in the American League Wild Card race, CC Sabathia gave his club everything it could ask for, and more, throwing seven sparkling innings of four-hit shutout ball to keep a sold-out Rogers Centre crowd as quiet as possible in the Yankees' 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday.
Sabathia's outings have served as a reminder of the vintage workhorse Sabathia has been throughout his career, and although the veteran lefty no longer possesses overpowering stuff, his ability to provide length and pitch big innings have aided a young Yankees ballclub navigating through a tight postseason race.
"He did a really good job today," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, whose club is 4 1/2 games behind Baltimore for the second AL Wild Card spot. "He had to battle early on and then was able to get really deep into the game for us. He pitched really well and gave us a chance to win."
Sabathia's outing came against a right-handed-heavy Toronto lineup, which came into the game sixth in the Major Leagues in runs scored. The five-time All-Star spotted both his sinker and four-seam fastball on the edges of the plate, inducing two early double plays off the bats of Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki, before settling in and retiring 15 of his final 18 batters.
"I mean, these guys made some great plays behind me," Sabathia said. "[Ronald Torreyes] on the dribbler down the third-base line gets the double play turned, and they helped me out a lot today, because I had a couple of walks and let some baserunners on."
Sabathia's rejuvenation in the season's second half has helped keep the Yankees near the edge of the Wild Card race.
Despite being winless in September, Sabathia has thrown five quality starts out of his last seven outings, lowering his ERA to 4.02 -- his lowest since his last All-Star season, in 2012. Sabathia also brought his innings total up to 172 1/3, closer to his personal benchmark of 200 innings and more than his output in each of the last two seasons.
"It's a long season and you have some ups and downs, but I feel good about the way I've been pitching lately," Sabathia said. "Something that's been a huge thing for me lately is not staying healthy. To be able to stay healthy and be out there and take the ball every fifth day means a lot."
Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto and covered the Yankees on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.