Yankees' defense has CC's back in bid

Yankees' defense has CC's back in bid

ST. PETERSBURG -- Without some help behind him, there was no way that CC Sabathia could have still been out there in the eighth inning on Saturday, when the Rays finally were able to slip one through the Yankees' defense.

Sabathia's latest bid for his first career no-hitter got some serious help from the corner infielders, as Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez each made terrific plays to keep the line moving until Kelly Shoppach finally singled with four outs left to go in New York's 10-0 victory.

Whether Sabathia actually would have finished what he started is another story, as manager Joe Girardi planned to bring in Dave Robertson for the ninth inning, but a combined no-hitter still would have been something to behold.

"You want to see it preserved as long as possible, even if it takes two pitchers," Girardi said. "Our defense was great behind him. Alex had all sorts of plays, testers. [Derek Jeter] made some really good plays, Tex a diving stab. Sometimes that's what you need when you're going through what CC is going through. You've got to have some great defensive plays."

In the sixth, Jason Bartlett connected on a line drive to the right side that Teixeira snared with a full-extension dive, landing on the infield dirt with the ball safe and secure in the webbing of his glove.

"I did not even look at the scoreboard until the fifth, and after the fifth, I said, 'Oh my goodness,'" Teixeira said. "Not that you don't play hard, but if the ball's hit to me, I'm catching it no matter what."

Teixeira said that he had already started thinking about how the Yankees were going to celebrate Sabathia's no-hitter by the seventh inning, when B.J. Upton turned on a hard drive that seemed headed for left field and a double.

A-Rod flew toward the third-base line and smothered the ball, hopping to his feet and throwing a rocket to first base that Teixeira dug out to end the inning. Rodriguez did not speak to reporters after the game, but Teixeira was clearly impressed.

"Alex's play was incredible," Teixeira said. "That was one of the best plays you're going to see all year. When you make a few plays like that, the way CC is throwing the ball, it can happen."

Everything seemed to be swinging in Sabathia's direction, especially when Willy Aybar opened the eighth with a ball that made contact with Sabathia's pitching hand, only to deflect to second baseman Robinson Cano for a putout.

"I'd prefer he didn't barehand them from the hitters," Girardi said. "He's got some pretty big mitts, though."

Cano had also helped save Sabathia an error in the seventh when the lefty fielded a Ben Zobrist tapper and threw wide to second base, but Cano alertly came off the bag and tagged Carl Crawford, who had been more intent on breaking up the double play.

"Everybody put something for this to happen," catcher Francisco Cervelli said. "I got excited all the time, with every situation. That's a good job for CC and everybody. The defense was great."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.