YANKEES 8, ROYALS 3
When the Yankees were in the midst of losing six of seven games, Alex Rodriguez took much of the criticism for an extended power outage that only Conn Edison could rival. But with two mighty swings of the bat on Wednesday, Rodriguez put the power outage to rest and boosted Andy Pettitte and the Yankees to a victory.
Rodriguez swatted a pair of home runs and drove in three runs and Pettitte continued to show he lost nothing in retirement as New York blasted Kansas City for a series-clinching victory at Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez followed a solo home run by Curtis Granderson and a walk to Mark Teixeira with a lined shot into the left-field bleachers off rookie left-hander Will Smith (0-1), who was making his major-league debut.
The home run was Rodriguez’s sixth of the season and his first in 52 at-bats. He also had only driven in only one run since May 6.
Two innings later, Rodriguez hit a high-arcing blast over the wall in center-field to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead and provided Rodriguez with a total of 60 career multiple-homer games.
Pettitte (2-1) took it pretty much from there. He pitched seven-plus innings and gave up two runs on seven hits and one walk and he struck out eight batters.
The only two hits that were hit hard were solo home runs by Billy Butler in the fourth inning and Mitch Maier in the fifth. The rest of the hits consisted of three infield hits and two bloop outfield singles.
With the victory, Pettitte is 13-3 against the Royals and he has won nine straight decisions against them in his last 13 starts.
Despite the fact the Yankees again struggled to hit with runners in scoring position – they were 1-for-6 on the night – the team managed to get runners across in other ways in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Jayson Nix opened the inning reaching after being hit with a pitch from reliever Luis Mendoza. Derek Jeter followed a bunt that he legged into a single and Nix and Jeter both advanced when third baseman Mike Moustakas threw wildly past first base for an error.
Granderson drew a walk to load the bases and Teixeira also walked to score Nix.
After Rodriguez bounced to third to force Jeter at the plate, Robinson Cano, facing lefty reliever Jose Mijares, hit a smash up the middle that was grabbed by Joey Giovotella to force Rodriguez at second as Granderson scored.
After Mijares hit Nick Swisher with a pitch to reload the bases, reliever Luis Coleman came in walked Andruw Jones to force in the third run of the inning.
The Yankees managed to extend the lead to 8-2 by bringing nine batters to the plate and scoring three runs on just one infield hit, three walks, two hit batters and an error.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their record to 23-21. The Royals dropped to 17-26.
- Rodriguez told reporters before the game that he discovered something he was doing wrong in his last at-bat on Tuesday night and that he thought he was about to “go off.” He backed it up with his two home runs and three RBIs on Wednesday. Rodriguez is hitting .281 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs.
- For those who thought Pettitte should have remained at home in Texas, he is proving them wrong with every start. In his three starts, Pettitte has a 2.53 ERA, a WHIP of 1.08 and 19 strikeouts in 21 innings. He also has worked into or beyond the seventh inning in all three of his starts. So is he too old at age 39 to be pitching?
- Granderson’s home run was his first since May 15 when he hit one against the Baltimore Orioles. In his previous five games, Granderson was 1-for-12 (.083) with six strikeouts. He is hitting .256 with 14 home runs and 25 RBIs.
- I hate to criticize on a such a good night but Russell Martin was 0-for-4 including a strikeout and hitting into a double play. He also left seven men on base. He is hitting .173 of the season with no sign of improvement in sight.
- Swisher was hitless in his two at-bats and he is does not have a hit in his last 13 at-bats. In his last nine games, Swisher is 3-for-32 (.094) and his season average has dipped to .236.
With his three hits on Wednesday, Jeter now has 3,152 career hits, which ties him for 15th place on the all-time hits list with Paul Waner. . . . Outfielder Brett Gardner and reliever David Robertson will travel to Tampa, FL., on Thursday to begin rehab assignments. Gardner, however, will not likely swing a bat until Monday. He has been on the disabled list since April 19 with a strained right elbow. Robertson has a strained left oblique muscle and he is targeting a return from the disabled list on June 1.
After playing 16 games in as many days, the Yankees get a day off as they travel to Oakland to open a three-game series with the Athletics on Friday.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (4-2, 5.69 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Nova has struggled of late, giving up five earned runs in his last two starts. But he also fanned 12 batters against the Reds on Saturday. He will be making his first career start against the A’s.
Oakland will start right-hander Tyson Ross (2-4, 5.73 ERA). Ross allowed just two runs over six innings but took the loss on Saturday against the Giants. He is 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 10:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.