Yankees manager Joe Girardi was hoping CC Sabathia would give one of those performances that has made him one of the most dependable pitchers in baseball -- his bullpen really needed a break.
The ace obliged.
Sabathia steadied New York's rocky rotation with eight sharp innings, Alex Rodriguez passed Willie Mays for eighth on the career RBIs list and the Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers, 6-2, on Sunday despite leaving an astonishing 14 men on base in the first six innings.
"It just feels good to go out there and give those guys a rest," Sabathia said of a 'pen that had thrown 73 1/3 innings entering the game, third most in the AL.
A-Rod drove in two runs for 1,904 RBIs without hitting the ball out of the infield. According to information provided by the Yankees from Elias, he is eighth in major league history.
He singled on a dribbler down the third base line with the bases loaded in the second, the Yankees' only hit in six plate appearances with three men on. Chris Stewart slid under catcher Gerald Laird's tag on Rodriguez's grounder to short in the seventh.
Curtis Granderson homered in the fourth inning -- barely. He had to stop between second and third to look back after center fielder Austin Jackson nearly made a spectacular catch above the wall in right-center.
Granderson also walked with the bases loaded to force in the game's first run in the second, one of a career-high seven walks by Detroit starter Max Scherzer (1-3).
The Yankees walked nine times and left 15 on base overall, but won the three-game series. Detroit has lost eight of 10.
"We were really fortunate to have a shot in that game the way the game was going," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "In this ballpark, with a lineup like that, normally that doesn't happen. And it won't happen."
Andruw Jones homered in the eighth. He pinch ran for Nick Swisher in the third after the right fielder left with a tight left hamstring following a walk.
Swisher has a low grade strain and will be out several days.
With New York's bullpen taxed by Freddy Garcia's horrid 1 2/3 innings start on Saturday, manager Girardi said before the game, "I would love to get a good seven or eight strong innings out of CC."
Sabathia (3-0) came through. He gave up a double in the first then retired 10 in a row before Prince Fielder, his former teammate at Milwaukee, hit his first home run in the Bronx and third this year overall with two outs in the fourth.
The big lefty had little trouble with the Tigers -- all except for Fielder and his nemesis Miguel Cabrera, who hit a long RBI double in the sixth inning to close it to 3-2. Cabrera is 10 for 19 against Sabathia.
Sabathia struggled early to a 5.27 ERA on a staff with a 6.37 ERA, 29th in the majors, entering Sunday. Garcia was dropped from the rotation before Sunday's game and rookie David Phelps will get a start.