Sabathia strikes out 13, Yankees blank Brewers 5-0
He was out on the field at Yankee Stadium when it hit him: He was about to face his friends. And that was a big deal.
"Rickie and Prince and Braunie," Sabathia said, naming just three of his former teammates from his brief time with the Brewers in 2008. "I didn't expect to be nervous but I was."
Once the game started, though, Sabathia was his usual dominant self. He tied a career high by striking out 13 and pitched the Yankees to a 5-0 win Thursday over Milwaukee.
"That was my team," Sabathia said. "I try to be laid back and not let that affect me, but it did."
Mark Teixeira hit his 300th homer to help the New York Yankees finish off June with a season-best five-game winning streak.
Sabathia (11-4) won for the eighth time in nine starts and became the first major leaguer to reach 11 victories. Detroit ace Justin Verlander got his 11th less than an hour later, against the New York Mets.
In 7 2-3 innings, Sabathia gave up six hits and two walks. Every batter he fanned came on a swinging third strike.
When Sabathia left after throwing 118 pitches, he got a roar from the fans who saw yet another daytime win. The Yankees are 23-4 in the afternoon.
"I always think that's nice for a player to hear that," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's really appreciated here, not only by us, but by the fans. It's good for him to hear."
Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 2008 after he was traded to the Brewers by Cleveland. He pitched Milwaukee into the playoffs that season and remains close to the nucleus of that team, especially players such as Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.
"It was great to see those guys," Sabathia said. "I played with and shared some special moments with them."
Randy Wolf (6-5) lost for the first time in eight starts since May 17.
Braun hit a two-out single in the first to run his hitting streak to 20 games, bringing him more than halfway to topping Paul Molitor's team record of 39.
Teixeira's milestone homer led off the third inning for New York, which finished the month by winning 15 of its last 19 games. It was Teixeira's 25th of the season, giving him the major league lead by one over Toronto's Jose Bautista, who played later Thursday night.
"Those are always big home runs when you can help out CC," Teixeira said. "He didn't need much."
Francisco Cervelli added an RBI single in the fourth and another in the eighth.
New York shut out an opponent for the third time this season. They had been tied with the Cubs for fewest in the major leagues.
The Yankees scored twice in the first, on Robinson Cano's one-out double off Wolf.
Brett Gardner led off with a walk and stole two bases, one in a double-steal with Nick Swisher before Cano's hit.
Wolf struggled all day, though he managed to scratch out seven innings. He gave up seven hits and four runs, hit a batter with a pitch and even dropped the ball on the mound once while trying to transfer it from his glove hand.
"That was really big for our bullpen," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "His last three innings pitched, it's the best that I've seen him throw. It was just the first couple innings, the ball was sailing away on him."
Before Thursday, Wolf had given up more than three runs once since May 11 and was 3-0 in his last seven starts.
In addition to the Brewers' 14 strikeouts — all swinging — the Brewers grounded into 10 outs, including a double play. They also hit two infield popups and George Kottaras hit the only fly ball, to center in the third inning.
Wolf could only appreciate his fellow left-hander's performance.
"He's got a lot of born-with tools. He's a monster out there," Wolf said. "He throws a 95 mph fastball, great changeup and a sharp slider. He definitely works are and puts that ability on the field. That ability is pretty nice to watch."
Said Weeks: "He's the best left-hander we've faced all year."
NOTES: This was only the second time in 12 years the Yankees had three steals in the first inning off a left-hander, according to STATS LLC. The other was on Sept. 25, 2009, against Boston's Jon Lester. ... Before the bottom of the fourth, the Yankees played the version of "Wild Thing" from the movie "Major League" and showed on the video screen Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, who played fictional commentator Harry Doyle in the 1989 movie. ... Weeks struck out his first three times up. Fielder also fanned three times. ... Former Yankees OF Bernie Williams announced the attendance of 46,903 in the press box. ... Sabathia also had 13 strikeouts Sept 14, 2007, with Cleveland. ... The Yankees hadn't won five in a row since Aug. 28-Sept 4 last season.