YANKEES 4, WHITE SOX 2
On a day when the New York Yankees honored its past during its 66th Annual Old-Timers’ Day celebration, 26-year-old right-hander Phil Hughes showed those legends that both the Yankees’ present and future is in good hands.
Hughes recovered from a two-run first inning on Sunday to pitch seven scoreless innings after it, striking out eight and walking just one, as New York earned a split of its four-game series with Chicago with a victory in front of a sellout crowd of 48,324 at Yankee Stadium.
Hughes (9-6) got support for his effort from the red-hot bat of Robinson Cano, who celebrated his selection to start at second base for the American League in the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City, MO, with a tie-breaking two-run home run off loser Gavin Floyd (6-8) with one out in the third inning.
Cano’s 20th home run of the season and his 10th in his last 15 games came on a 3-2 fastball that Cano launched on a line into the bleachers in right-center with Mark Teixeira on first via a walk.
Two innings earlier, Eric Chavez, who was playing third base in place of a resting Alex Rodriguez, blasted a two-run home run of his own, his sixth of the season, following a leadoff single by Raul Ibanez.
Hughes did the rest to earn his seventh win in his last 10 starts with the help of a scoreless inning of relief in the ninth from Rafael Soriano for his 18th save in 19 opportunities.
The White Sox must thought it was their ay when they pushed across two runs against Hughes in the first inning.
Alejandro De Aza started it off with a leadoff double to right. Kevin Youkilis singled to left to score De Aza and he scored from second two outs later on a line-drive single to left by Alex Rios.
But after that frame, Hughes only gave up a back-to-back two-out single and double to Paul Konerko and Rios in the third inning. But he escaped that threat by inducing AJ. Pierzynski into an infield popout.
Hughes also gave up a two-out single to to Pierzynski in the sixth but he fanned Dayan Viciedo on three pitches to end that inning.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were making Floyd throw a lot of pitches. He threw 38 alone in the third inning and he left after giving up four runs on eight hits and five walks and he struck out three in 122 pitches over 5 1/3 innings.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 48-30 and they also stretched their lead over the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East to six games. The White Sox dropped to 42-37.
- Yankee fans are finally seeing the Hughes who was 10-1 before the All-Star break in 2010. In his last 10 starts, Hughes is 7-2 with a 3.27 ERA, a WHIP of 1.17 and 59 strikeouts in 66 innings. The biggest change in Hughes is that he jettisoned his cutter and he now only throws fastballs, curves and change-ups.
- It is hard to figure what was hotter on Sunday, the 95-degree weather in the Bronx, NY, or Robinson Cano’s bat. Cano came up in the first inning with bases loaded and nobody out, but he hit into a double play and the Yankees did not score. But he atoned for it with his two-run blast in the third inning. Cano’s 2-for-4 day raised his season average to .310, the first time he has reached that mark since May 18.
- Chavez is providing quality defense at third and a potent left-handed bat in the lineup when he starts. In his last seven starts for the Yankees, Chavez is 8-for-23 (.348) with two home runs and seven RBIs. Chavez is hitting .275 with six home runs and 15 RBIs on the season.
- Russell Martin was not hitting well before he re-injured his lower back last week. Since he has returned he has fallen off a cliff. He is 0-for-7 after going 0-for-4 on Sunday. His batting average is now back down to .186 and the Yankees are at a loss as to how to get him hitting again.
- Nick Swisher was 1-for-4 but he struck out three times and he swung at a lot of pitches out of the strike zone or he was fooled into swinging over breaking pitches. Swisher is walking considerably less than he has in any previous season (25) and he is striking out at a rate (60) that could eclipse his season high of 152 in 2006 with Oakland.
- The runners in scoring position bugaboo bit the Yankees again on Sunday. They were 1-for-7 and the one was Cano’s home run. The Yankees fortunately lead the majors with 124 home runs but they are hitting in the .220s with runners in scoring position this season.
Cano was among four Yankees selected to the A.L. All-Star team on Sunday. Cano will be joined by shortstop Derek Jeter, outfielder Curtis Granderson and left-hander CC Sabathia. Sabathia, however, will not pitch in the game because he is on the 15-day disabled list with a mild left groin strain. . . . The Yankees announced on Sunday that they have acquired right-handed reliever Chad Qualls from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations. Qualls, 33, was 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in 35 appearances for the Phillies. He gave up 39 hits and nine walks and struck 19 batters over 31 1/3 innings. He was designated for assignment by Philadelphia on June 29 and he is expected to available to pitch for the Yankees on Monday in St. Petersburg, FL. . . . Ibanez suffered a laceration on his lip and chipped tooth unsuccessfully trying to avoid a foul ball in the dugout off the bat of Pierzynski in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game. Ibanez was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital after the game and he was expected to be able to join the team for Monday’s game.
The Yankees will open a seven-game road trip against the Rays and Red Sox beginning with Tampa Bay on Monday.
Freddy Garcia (2-2, 6.39 ERA) will get his first start in place of Andy Pettitte in the rotation. Garcia was 0-2 with a 12.51 ERA in his first four starts of the season and was demoted to the bullpen. In the bullpen, he is 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA and he seems to have regained velocity on his fastball. In the last 10 seasons, Garcia is 9-2 with a 3.28 ERA against the Rays.
The Rays will counter with rookie left-hander Matt Moore (4-5, 4.19 ERA). Moore gave up four runs on 10 hits and two walks while striking out five in 7 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday. Moore is 1-0 with 0.00 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:0 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.