Yanks right the ship before Mariners series
The Yankees earned a much-needed victory fueled by a big offensive outburst and a gutsy performance from Phil Hughes. It was a win that was almost necessary as the Yankees head into an off day before the Mariners come into town for a weekend set. The Yankees could have been staring at a five-game losing streak at the hands of their division rivals, the Red Sox and Orioles, while again dropping their once-padded lead in the division down another notch into some scary territory.
Instead the Yankees’ offense took over right from the start as Curtis Granderson crushed his 29th home run of the season to put the Yankees on the board and in front. The Yankees wound up putting up two runs in the first and two runs in the second to take a 4-1 lead, however, the third inning essentially put the game away for good. The Yankees scored seven runs behind Robinson Cano's ninth career grand slam and Major League-leading eighth team grand slam of the season.
The Yankees may have given back their 5-0 lead en route to an 11-5 loss on Tuesday night, but their 11-1 lead would stick, as they finished off the Orioles, 12-3, in the Wednesday afternoon showdown. The Yankees won just their fourth game in their last 13 contests, but this one was very important. They increased their division lead over Buck's (Showalter) birds by six-and-a-half games, while going into the off day on a positive note.
“It's really important just not to lose three games and get one out of three,” Cano said after the game. “Just forget about the last two games, and just be ready to play Friday.”
What was even more impressive was that just one night after Ivan Nova gave up a career-high nine earned runs, in which he thought he had impressive command and great stuff, Phil Hughes came back and gave the Yankees six strong innings in an outing in which he thought he had a terrible performance.
“Really, I mean, I didn't pitch well at all,” Hughes said after the game. “I didn't have good stuff, and didn't have good location, and [was] just trying to bear down and get some outs when I needed them. I was real fortunate to get the run support. I was feeling good in my last start, so kind of disappointing to have a start like this. We got a lot of runs, so that's nice. Hopefully, I can bounce back and pitch a little better next time.”
“He did a good job managing innings today,” Joe Girardi said of Hughes’ performance. “He got a double-play ball in one of the innings out of Chris Davis and then he got some fly outs that weren't deep enough to advance runners. So he did a pretty good job.”
After starting the season 4-5, Hughes has been absolutely terrific over his last 11 starts since June 1. He is 7-3, with a miniscule 2.77 ERA, while walking only 18 and striking out 60 in 74.2 innings. The victory today has run his season record to 11-8, and he finally got his ERA below 4.00 after his rough April and May campaign.
Newly acquired Casey McGehee also made his first start at first base for the Yankees, and Joba Chamberlain made his first appearance since June 5, 2011.
McGehee went 0-2, but walked twice, scored two runs, had a sacrifice fly and hit the ball hard in his two outs.
“He was patient, and I haven't really seen a lot of him over the years,” Girardi said of the newest Yankee. “He did a nice job. And the last ball he hit, I was impressed with that too. We think he's going to help us.”
Joba, on the other hand, did not have the performance he was probably looking for. He immediately gave up a home run to J.J. Hardy and gave up another run in 1.2 innings of work, while allowing four hits. He did get out of a jam by inducing an inning-ending double play in the top of the seventh. It might have not been the best return for the hard-throwing set-up man, but Girardi liked what he saw after the game.
“I was curious to see how he would do today, because I'm sure there's a lot of emotions, but he threw strikes, so I'm happy with that,” Girardi said.
A win on Wednesday was certainly a key as they prepare to take on the last-place Mariners, who come to town for a weekend set. Ichiro Suzuki, who looked impressive in his first start in left field, will be playing his former mates since he abruptly got traded and immediately switched clubhouses from Safeco Field's home to visiting locker room.
All in all, the Yankees’ offense and Phil Hughes may have righted the ship after a very rough two-week patch for the Bronx Bombers.