YANKEES 9, ASTROS 5
The Houston Astros have a revised scouting report on Jorge Posada. It simply says don’t give him anything good to hit with the bases loaded.
Posada hit his second grand slam home run in two days as he led the New York Yankees to a three-game sweep of the Astros on Sunday and the Yankees took a share of first place in the A.L. East.
Posada became the first major-league player to hit grand slams in consecutive games since Carlos Beltran in July 2006 and the first Yankee to do it since Bill Dickey in 1937.
Like Posada, Dickey was a catcher and Posada’s came on the same day he returned to catching since he broke a bone in his right foot on May 16. Posada entered the series in a 2-for-28 slump and ended up 4-for-9 with two home runs and eight RBIs in the series.
Before Saturday’s game, Posada had not hit a grand slam home run since the 2004 season. His second in two days came in the bottom of the fourth inning off right-hand reliever Brain Daigle and came with two outs. The blast turned a 3-1 game into a seeming 7-1 rout.
Phil Hughes (9-1) got credit for the victory but he struggled mightily in the sixth inning to hold that big lead Posada provided. Hughes was touched for three consecutive hits — a double by Geoff Blum, a two-run single by Tommy Manzella and a two-run home run by former Yankee catcher Kevin Cash — and he was removed from the game.
Hughes gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks and fanned six batters in 5 2/3 innings. His season ERA rose from 2.71 to 3.11.
Astros’ starter Brian Moehler (0-3) took the loss after giving up four runs on four hits and five walks in 4 2/3 innings.
With the victory the Yankees improved their record to season-high 17 games over .500 at 40-23. The Rays were thrashed by the Florida Marlins 6-1 and they now have lost all of the six-game lead they held on the Yankees on May 23. The Astros season record dropped to 25-39.
- Posada’s surge at the plate showed how valuable a bat the Yankees missed when he was on the disabled list. Posada was batting .326 with six home and 14 RBIs when he was injured. His 2-for-28 slump dropped his average to .276. His hot weekend against the Astros raised his average to .288 and he now has eight home runs and 23 RBIs.
- Robinson Cano had another one of those days that keep him in the middle of the MVP discussion. He was 1-for-3 with his team-leading 13th home run (a solo shot in the fourth inning off Moehler), walked twice and scored three runs.
- Pressed back into service in left-field by the hamstring injury to Marcus Thames, Brett Gardner showed no ill-effects from the soreness in his left thumb. Gardner was 2-for-3 with two singles, he stole his 22nd base of the season, scored a run, drove in a run and made a sensational catch on a Carlos Lee line drive to the wall in the seventh inning.
- Ramiro Pena, starting in place of the injured Alex Rodriguez at third, made Moehler pay for walking the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Pena looped a two-run single into shallow right-field to score Cano and Nick Swisher to make the score 3-1.
- The Yankees can’t be happy with the way Hughes pitched after Posada staked him to a 7-1 lead. With two outs and one on in the sixth Hughes seemed to have run out of gas. He gave up a double to Geoff Blum, a single to Manzella and the Cash home run and it was 7-5 just like that. The quartet of Damaso Marte, Chan Ho Park, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera closed the door on the Astros from there. In the 3 1/3 innings they worked, they gave up just one hit and no walks and fanned four batters.
- Curtis Granderson doubled in his first at bat against the Astros in the first inning on Friday night and then promptly went 0-for-11 in the rest of the series with five strikeouts. Granderson’s batting average has slid to .241.
- The Yankees allowed Moehler, who entered the game with an ERA of 6.12, to keep the game close for much too long. Moehler was pitching to the corners with off-speed stuff and deliberately not giving in when he was behind (five walks). But the Yankees also did not get hits when they could have used them. Moehler struck out four batters and three of them were called out looking. Swisher was victimized looking twice.
The Yankees placed OF/DH Marcus Thames on the 15-day disabled list with a mild strain of the right hamstring. Outfielder Chad Huffman, 25, was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Thames on the roster. Manager Joe Girardi opted to DH Swisher and placed Huffman out in right-field for his first major-league start. Huffman was 1-for-4 with an infield single in his first at-bat, a walk and a strikeout. Huffman’s parents and other family members flew in to watch his major-league debut. . . . It is a bit alarming that Posada left the game in the eighth inning with soreness in the same right foot that was broken on May 16. Girardi said Posada will be re-evaluated before he is cleared to catch in the upcoming three-game series with the Phillies that begins on Tuesday night. . . . Alfredo Aceves, who has been on the disabled list since May 12 with a bulging disc in his back, threw on flat ground Saturday and reported no pain. Aceves said he hopes to throw again on Monday. There is no timetable for his return. . . . Girardi said that he hopes to have Rodriguez back in the starting lineup on Tuesday — either as a DH or at third base. Rodriguez has missed the last three games with a strained left hip flexor.
THE NEXT GAME
The Yankees will have an advantageous day off on Monday to rest their wounded players and to get ready for the rematch of the 2009 Fall Classic with the Phillies.
On Tuesday night, CC Sabathia (6-3, 4.01 ERA) will open the series at Yankee Stadium. Sabathia beat the Orioles on Wednesday, allowing two runs on nine hits in seven innings for his fourth victory over the Orioles this season. Sabathia has not beaten another team since April 16. He is 1-1 with a 4.35 ERA in three regular-season starts against the Phillies and 0-2 in three postseason starts.
The Yankees will face a familiar friend: Roy Halladay (8-4, 1.95 ERA). Halladay dominated the Florida Marlins on Thursday, giving up one run in eight innings at home. However, the Phillies could not score off Josh Johnson and Halladay suffered his fourth loss of the season.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast locally by MY9.