Published September 28, 2010
TORONTO – The New York Yankees clinched their 15th postseason berth in the last 16 years and CC Sabathia got his 21st win of the season, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1 on Tuesday night.
Derek Jeter scored three runs and drove in another for the Yankees, who have reached the postseason every year but one since 1995. New York missed the playoffs in 2008, finishing behind Tampa Bay and Boston.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who hold a half-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East, clinched a playoff berth Tuesday, beating Baltimore 5-0.
Sabathia (21-7) allowed one run and three hits in 8 1-3 innings to match Andy Pettitte's 21 wins in 1996 and 2003 for the most victories by a Yankee since Ron Guidry went 22-6 in 1985.
The left-hander, who walked two and struck out eight, is 9-3 in 12 career starts against Toronto, including 5-1 with a 2.39 ERA in six starts at Rogers Centre.
Mariano Rivera got the final two outs for the Yankees.
Sabathia came in having lost two of his past four starts, allowing 16 runs, but was on form against the Blue Jays. He retired eight of the first nine batters, walking Jose Bautista in the first. Travis Snider hit a leadoff homer to right in the third, his 12th.
The homer was Toronto's major league-leading 244th of the season, matching the team record set in 2000. Seattle holds the all-time record, hitting 264 in 1997.
Sabathia responded to Snider's blast by setting down 11 straight batters and 16 of the next 17.
New York opened the scoring in the first when Jeter singled, took second on a wild pitch, went to third on Mark Teixeira's single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Rodriguez.
The Yankees doubled their lead with some more small ball in the third against Blue Jays rookie Kyle Drabek. Jeter drew a leadoff walk, again took second on a wild pitch, moved to third on Nick Swisher's sacrifice and scored when Teixeira hit a sacrifice fly to center.
Making his third career start, Drabek (0-3) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out four.
New York added to its lead in the fifth when Brett Gardner tripled to left-center and slid home ahead of the tag from catcher John Buck on Jeter's grounder to third. Edwin Encarnacion's throw beat Gardner, who got his right leg around Buck to score.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston came out to argue the play with plate umpire Mark Carlson and was later ejected when he argued another call in the sixth.
Gaston returned after Carlson called Blue Jays designated hitter J.P. Arencibia out for running outside the baseline on a grounder to first. Sabathia's throw hit Arencibia, who was running inside the line.
After a brief discussion, Gaston had turned back to the dugout when he made one final comment, prompting Carlson to eject him. It was the third time this season he's been tossed.
Gaston came back and renewed the argument with Carlson before crew chief Jeff Kellogg intervened, pointing Gaston back to the dugout.
The crowd of 18,193 stood and chanted "Cito! Cito!" as Gaston, who is set to retire at season's end, walked off the field.
The Yankees got two more runs in the eighth. Jeter scored when Rodriguez drew a bases-loaded walk from Josh Roenicke, and Robinson Cano followed with a sacrifice fly off David Purcey.
Greg Golson capped it in the ninth with an RBI grounder against Casey Janssen.
NOTES: Yankees manager Joe Girardi took about 15 swings during a drill in early batting practice, homering to left on his final pitch. ... Former Blue Jays OF George Bell threw out the first pitch to fellow Dominican Jose Bautista. ... The Blue Jays will hold a farewell ceremony for Gaston before Wednesday's game, their final home game of the season. ... Drabek is being shut down for the rest of the season after reaching his innings limit.
(This version CORRECTS Yankees 6, Blue Jays 1. Corrects year streak started to 1995.)