Yankees Postgame Notebook: 'It's good to win on a day like today'
The ultimate hero was Martin Prado, whose 3-for-4 day included a two-run double in the fourth that gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead and a sixth-inning double that led to him scoring the final run.
"He's a good player, that's probably the easiest thing to say," manager Joe Girardi said of Prado. "He's a guy that grinds it out every day and loves to play the game, and he has the ability to move around which gives us so much flexibility."
Prado has been a catalyst all week for the Yankees, now 12-for-27 with nine RBI in his last seven games, and that's exactly what the team envisioned when they traded for him on July 31.
"We've talked about this guy for a couple years now, but I knew how good of a player he was and it's been a good acquisition," Girardi said.
That line, however, isn't a direct correlation to the fact that it was seven games ago that the versatile Prado became the team's regular second baseman - at least not to his manager, anyway.
"I don't think it's a big enough sample size to say that's the reason," the skipper said. "He'll keep playing second a lot, but we may have to move him around tomorrow.
The man who allowed Prado to move from right field back to the infield, Carlos Beltran, also had a lot to do with the win. Beltran had sat out the last three games because he needed another cortisone shot in his troublesome elbow, but rebounded by going 2-for-4 and reaching base three times.
It was Beltran's sixth-inning solo homer ahead of Prado's double that gave the Yankees what would ultimately be the winning run, and the skipper was glad he got to pencil in his slugger once again.
"I checked with him about 12:55, as we were bringing the lineup card out, to make sure he was okay," Girardi said, "and it was nice, because those (sixth-inning) runs ended up being big; they were tack-on runs at the time but ended up being big.
The final heroic grinder of the day was Hiroki Kuroda, who worked out of trouble when he needed to and gutted out a quality start. The righty allowed just two runs over six innings en route to his ninth win of the season, and most importantly, gave a performance that makes the Yankees believe he can avoid the late-season fade that was his fate last season.
"We got a gutsy performance from Hiro, and it's encouraging," Girardi said. "He's a guy we try to make sure gets extra days (rest) when we can; we gave him two last time and one this time, and he'll go normal rest next time, but we need him down the stretch. He has the most experience out there, and he's been pitching well."
The win makes the Yankees 3-2 on this homestand, and after starting 0-2, they have the opportunity to head on the road on the back of a four-game winning streak.
"It could be a good homestand if we find a way to win tomorrow," Girardi said. "We have a tough opponent (in Chris Sale) and we know that, but we have to find a way to win."
But Girardi will worry about that on Sunday, because for Saturday's sake, it was just nice to win on a day where so many came back to support his own mentor, Torre.
"Joe meant a ton to all of us; Jeet talked about him being a second father and I think all of us would talk about him being a mentor to us. To see Yogi in the house and all the people who came back, and the message from Mel (Stottlemyre) and Soot Zimmer…Joe meant a lot to a lot of people, and I think you saw that today, so it was nice to win."
A few other notes and quotes from Joe Torre Day:
-Mark Teixeira was on base three times, but the last one may hurt the Yankees; the first baseman was hit by a pitch in the leg in the eighth, and although he stayed in and finished the game, Girardi had some concern for his often banged-up slugger: "Whenever a guy gets hit you have concern, and you don't know how it will respond physically tomorrow…but we'll see."
-Teixeira was also part of the biggest Yankees miscue of the day, a fourth inning where they ran into two outs on the bases. Teixeira was caught in between Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran on what was a Beltran single, and later, after his RBI double, Prado ran into an out at third base on a Chase Headley grounder - but to the skipper's credit, he simply said it happens: "Tex followed the throw, which you're taught to do, but you have to pick up what the guy in front of you is doing too, so we ran into an out there. Prado was just a quick read, and your reads aren't always going to be right. He thought the ball was going to get by (the pitcher)."
-Beltran was glad to be back, and even happier to be a big part of the win, but is ready to put all talk about his bothersome elbow behind him: "The same issue I've had all year is still there, but right now, what's important is coming to the ballpark every day and trying to find a way to be in the lineup. I'm just thinking about winning ballgames, so it's good to contribute and help the team."
-Last word goes to the skipper, who said this when asked if his team topping four runs for the first time since August 8 was a sign of things to come: "I hope so. I've said all along this offense has the ability to score more runs and they worked really hard at it, and today we put together some good at-bats and took advantage of some miscues, and we did a nice job."