YANKEES 10, CUBS 4
Nick Swisher never got a chance to see his father, Steve, play at Wrigley Field as a member of the Cubs. He was not born until three years after his father left the Cubs in 1977. But on this Father’s Day he paid homage to the former Cubs catcher by blasting a big home run for the Yankees against the Cubs at the hallowed Chicago venue in front of national television audience.
The younger Swisher smacked a three-run home run deep into the bleachers in right-center in the top of the eighth inning off right-hander Chris Carpenter to break a 4-4 tie and New York added three more runs in the ninth to finally show the upstart Cubs who was boss in their three-game weekend series.
Yankees ace left-hander CC Sabathia (9-4) won his sixth game in his last seven starts and is now tied with six other pitchers for the major-league lead in victories. But for Sabathia, this was not his best outing and he actually trailed the game 4-1 after giving up a three-run home run to former Yankee Rafael Soriano with two outs in the third inning.
Sabathia gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk and he fanned three batters in seven innings of work. Having trouble with command of his fastball, Sabathia adjusted to throw more breaking pitches and he only gave up two hits over the last four innings to get credit for the victory.
As they have so often, the Yankee offense got Sabathia back into the game. Brett Gardner led off the game with a home run off Cubs starter Randy Wells. But the Yankees struggled a bit with Wells before scoring two runs in the fourth and a single run in the sixth.
Swisher, who finished the night 3-for-5 with four RBIs, singled in Alex Rodriguez with one out in the fourth inning. Eduardo Nunez scored Robinson Cano two batters later on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice groundout to third. The two-run inning was set up on a mental error by Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. After Rodriguez drew a one-out walk, Cano hit a sure groundball out to third baseman Aramis Ramirez. But Castro pulled his foot off the second-base bag before he caught the ball and Rodriguez and Cano both were ruled safe.
Two innings later, the Yankees tied the game. Rodriguez led off with a single. A groundout by Cano advanced Rodriguez to second and Swisher singled to move Rodriguez to third. After a Wells wild pitch advanced Swisher to second, Russell Martin launched a sacrifice fly to right to score Rodriguez.
The Yankees then seized control of the game in the eighth inning on Cubs lefty reliever Sean Marshall (3-2). Rodriguez opened the frame with a broken-bat single to left. Cano followed by lacing a single to right-center to advance Rodriguez to third.
Cubs manager Mike Quade elected to bring in the right-handed Carpenter to force Swisher to hit from his weaker side this season, the left side. However, Carpenter fell behind by sailing two straight pitches high and way outside. Carpenter then elected to throw a fastball in the middle of the plate and Swisher got all of it for his seventh home run of the season, giving the Yankees a 7-4 lead and sending a lot of the Cubs fans among the 41,828 in attendance home early.
With the victory, the Yankees have improved to 41-29 and they are a season-high 12 games over .500. They also remain 1 1/2 games in back of the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Cubs, meanwhile, are heading in the opposite direction. They are now 29-42.
- Swisher’s 3-for-5 night has him headed in the right direction with his batting average. He raised his batting average to .237. After hitting .225 in April and .200 in May, Swisher is hitting .309 in June with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He is now hitting .187 against right-handers with four home runs and 20 RBIs.
- Rodriguez reached base every time up and was 3-for-4 with two singles, a double, a walk, scored three runs and drove in another. Rodriguez is now hitting .289 on the season with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs. Though he may not be hitting for as much power, Rodriguez is tearing up June with a .295 average.
- Gardner was 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, scored two runs and drove in one. That means in the six games he and Swisher have shared the leadoff spot in place of the injured Derek Jeter they are a combined 10-for-23 (.435) with an on-base percentage of .552. Manager Joe Girardi might have a tough decision to make about the leadoff spot when Jeter returns.
- Martin was showing no ill effects from his home-plate collision on Saturday with Carlos Pena and was 1-for-3 with a walk and had another bid for hit taken away from him in the ninth. Martin’s sac fly in the sixth tied the game and set the stage for the Yankees’ six-run explosion in the final two frames.
- Sabathia was fortunate to be able recover after a rocky beginning. He gave up four runs on six hits in the first and third innings, but he retired 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced to salvage a victory on a night when he did not have his best command. Sabathia is sixth in the American League in run support. The Yankees are averaging 7.89 runs a game for him.
- Nunez was only the Yankee starter, except Sabathia, to not get a hit in the game. He was 0-for-3 with a walk but did drive in a run on a bases-loaded groundout in the fourth. It is only the second game in which he has started for Jeter at shortstop and he did not get a hit.
- The Yankees called upon right-hander Jeff Marquez, 26, to pitch the ninth with a 10-4 lead. However, Marquez made it a Navy appearance — it was not just a job it was an adventure. First Marquez dropped a Mark Teixeira flip on a Kosuke Fukodome grounder for an error. He then gave up a sharp single to Reed Johnson. Girardi then reluctantly ordered Mariano Rivera to warm up. Next Marquez went to full counts on Starlin Castro and Jeff Baker before retiring them. Then Aramis Ramirez lashed a bad-hop single that knocked over Ramiro Pena, who was subbing for Rodriguez at third base. But Marquez ended the game by retiring Soriano on a routine fly to center.
Phil Hughes struck out seven batters in 4 1/3 innings of a rehab assignment on Sunday with Class-A Staten Island in Brooklyn. Hughes gave up one run on three hits and a walk in a 61-pitch outing. It was Hughes first game since he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. More important good news for the Yankees was Hughes’ velocity. He averaged in the 92-93 range and topped out at 95 mph. Hughes was unable to reach 90 mph consistently throughout spring training. Hughes is scheduled to make a another rehab start with Double-A Trenton in five days and he possibly could be activated within two weeks. . . . Rodriguez downplayed concerns about a left shoulder injury that has been nagging the third baseman for the past few weeks. Girardi disputed a published report that it was a strain. He said it was just soreness and Rodriguez has been receiving treatment for it for about 10 days.
The Yankees, having won the Cub series and having also won eight of their last 10 games, continue their interleague road trip to Cincinnatti for a three-game series starting on Monday.
The Yankees will open the series with 24-year-old right-hander Ivan Nova (6-4, 4.46 ERA) on the mound. Nunez leads the A.L. and is second in the majors in run support. The Yankees average 9.41 runs per start for him. Nunez gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings against Texas on Wednesday but the Yankees handed him a victory by scoring 12 runs for him. He has never faced the Reds.
The Red will counter with 25-year-old right-hander Johnny Cueto (4-2, 1.68 ERA). Cueto gave up one unearned run on five hits over innings in a victory over the Dodgers on Tuesday . Cueto is 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.