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.
YANKEES 18, WHITE SOX 7
The Yankees’ offense is lot like a volcano. It can lie dormant for days at a time, spew a bit of fire suddenly and then it finally erupts. On Wednesday night, the 23,873 in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field witnessed an eruption of Mount St. Helen’s proportions.
Curtis Granderson produced four hits and five RBIs and Robinson Cano and Eric Chavez each contributed a home run among their three hits and four RBIs apiece as New York terrorized Chicago pitching for a season-high 18 runs and their second-best season hit total of 23 to win their sixth game in a row.
The onslaught began very innocently in the very first inning with back-to-back bunt singles by Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter, who ended up with five hits in a game for the fourth time in his career and the first time since he collected his 3,000th hit on July 9. Cano punctuated the inning by launching a three-run home run off White Sox starter and loser Gavin Floyd (9-10).
Granderson added two runs off Floyd in the second inning with a two-out, two-run triple. Chavez added a two-run home run in the third and Jeter later that inning rolled a two-run single up the middle off reliever Will Ohman. After hitting a sacrifice fly that scored the game’s first run in the first inning, Mark Teixeira lined a ball that center-fielder Alex Rios misplayed into a triple that scored two runs as the Yankees erupted for seven big runs in the third inning alone.
Floyd, who entered the game as the hottest pitcher in baseball since the All-Star break with a 3-0 record and a 0.81 ERA, was blasted for 10 runs on nine hits, a walk, a hit batter and he struck out two in 2 1/3 innings. It was his shortest outing of the season.
By the time Ohman struck out Nick Swisher looking to end the third inning, the Yankees had a 13-1 lead.
This is where the Yankees’ story takes a very odd turn.
Veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett for some reason was unable to pitch effectively enough to last the necessary five innings to win what would have been his first victory in August as a Yankee. He entered the game 0-6 in his last two seasons with the Yankees. Burnett also has not won a game since June 29.
After giving up a solo run in the first on a Carlos Quenton sac fly, Burnett was touched for five runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Brent Morel and Juan Pierre and a three-run home run by Quentin.
Alexsei Ramirez opened the fifth inning with a double and A.J. Pierzynski scored him with a double of his own. One out later, Alejandro De Aza stroked one of his four hits on the night to advance Pierzynski to third and De Aza took second on the throw from Nick Swisher.
Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough and pulled Burnett, who gave up seven runs on 13 hits and he struck out three in 4 1/3 innings. Since July, Burnett has an ERA of 6.00.
Cory Wade (2-0) pitched 1 2/3 innings of perfect relief and was credited for the victory. Wade, Luis Ayala and Rafael Soriano combined to pitch 4 2/3 innings of scoreless one-hit relief to allow the Yankees to tack on four runs in the seventh and one more in the eighth to put the game out of reach.
Granderson drove in three of those runs with a two-run single in the seventh and a RBI double in the eighth for a huge five-RBI night.
Each Yankee starter recorded at least one hit and each also were able to score a run. The Yankees have now scored 10 or more runs in four games since July 22.
With the victory the Yankees have already clinched the four-game series with the White Sox and they ran their season record to 67-42, a season-high 25 games over .500. The Yankees also remain a game behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The hard-luck White Sox have now lost five in a row and they are sinking fast in the A.L. Central with a 52-57 season mark.
- The top of the batting order — Gardner, Jeter and Granderson — were 12-for-17 (.706) with 10 runs scored and seven RBIs. Gardner and Jeter quickly set the tone by getting aboard on bunt singles off Floyd. The Yankees just steamrolled the veteran right-hander until he was removed from the game in the third inning.
- Granderson’s five RBIs give him 84 on the season, which is one behind Teixeira, who drove in three runs himself on Wednesday. Teixeira and Granderson are third and fourth in the majors in RBIs, respectively. Granderson needed only a home run to hit for the cycle.
- Jeter’s five hits give him 3,027 for his career, moving him past Lou Brock into 23rd place on the all-tie hits list. Jeter’s five hits raised his average to .280 on the season which is three points below his season high of .283 he was hitting on May 10.
- Wade has pitched exceptionally well since he was brought up on June 15. He is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his 16 appearances. He has not given up a run in 13 of those games. His most impressive statistics are his 0.95 WHIP and his 13 strikeouts with only four walks in 19 innings of work.
Rather than report on the negatives, which are pretty few in a rout like this, I would rather comment on the huge problem A.J. Burnett is now becoming. Last year, Burnett was 10-15 with a 5.26 record on a team that won a division title and made the A.L. Championship Series. It was the highest ERA ever for a Yankee starter on a championship team. So A.J. was supposed to work with new pitching coach Larry Rothschild this spring to improve his mechanics and get a more consistent release point. The idea was we would see more of “Good A.J.” and much less of “Bad A.J.” Well, the wheels fell off the Burnett wagon after his last victory on June 29. He was 8-6 with a decent 4.05 ERA then. After that, he has been a disaster. He is 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in his last six starts. The Yankees currently have six starters on the roster. Ivan Nova is 9-4 with a 4.01 ERA and he was poised to replace Phil Hughes in the rotation until Hughes pitched six innings of brilliant shutout baseball in 6-0 rain-shortened victory over the White Sox on Tuesday. So Yankee fans are probably thinking that Burnett should be shifted to the bullpen and Nova should replace him. Alas, it will never happen. Burnett makes $82 million through the life of his contract with the Yankees and they will not take him out of the rotation for any reason. They can’t trade him through waivers either without picking up almost all of the tab. And if you think Burnett is shaky as a starter, imagine how bad he could be out of the bullpen. So with the Yankees at a critical juncture of the season and with them breathing fire down the necks of the Red Sox, Burnett will remain a thorn in our sides the rest of this season. It was a mistake that general manager Brian Cashman made in believing a .500 career pitcher could be a No. 2 starter for the Yankees. It may prove to be the most costly mistake Cashman has made. It also really stinks that Nova may be sent back to the minors or the bullpen because of a underachieving starter like Burnett. The Yankees will remain cursed as long he stays in pinstripes.
The Yankees can sweep their four-game road series with the White Sox on Thursday.
The Yankees will start Nova, who is unclear what his role will be with the Yankees should he pitch well. In his last start, he gave up only two runs over seven innings in a huge rout against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night. It was his first major-league start since July 1. Nova is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA against the White Sox.
The White will counter with right-hander Philip Humber (8-7. 3.44 ERA). Humber gave up four runs in the fifth inning and was chased by the Red Sox in a loss on Saturday. Humber has given up 14 earned runs in his last 14 innings, spanning his last three starts. He is 1-0 with 0.00 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 8:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.