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.
YANKEES 3, ROYALS 2
Stop the presses! There is earth-shattering news out of the Bronx on Tuesday! Reserve the Canyon of Heroes for a ticker-tape parade in New York City on Wednesday!
The Yankees have finally won a major-league baseball game!
It was not pretty but it still counts. Phil Hughes pitched a solid six innings and the Yankees pushed across two runs with the bases loaded in the fifth inning as New York defeated Kansas City to break a slide in which the team had lost six of its last seven games.
Hughes (4-5) gave up just two runs on five hits and two walks and fanned seven batters to pick up his third victory in his last four starts. A bullpen combination of Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada shut down the Royals for two innings and Rafael Soriano tossed a scoreless ninth for his third save of the season.
The Yankees, trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, picked up a run on a solo home run off the bat of Robinson Cano, his fifth of the season.
They then loaded the bases against right-hander Luke Hochevar (3-5) in the fifth inning. For the past week or so, having the bases loaded for the Yankees has been an advantage to the pitchers they have faced because they had failed miserably in scoring even a single run.
But on Tuesday it worked out quite differently.
Mark Teixeira led off with a single and he was able to advance to second on an error by right-fielder Jeff Francouer. Hochevar then grazed Russell Marrtin with a pitch and Dewayne Wise followed with a sacrifice bunt he was able to leg into a single.
Knowing the Yankees were hitless in their last 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, a paid Yankee Stadium crowd of 37,674 took out their four-leaf clovers, St. Christopher medals and rabbit’s feet and prayed for an end to the misery that has befallen their team.
Derek Jeter answered those prayers by looping a 2-2 pitch from Hochevar into right to score Teixeira with the tying run. Curtis Granderson followed with a slow roller to first that scored Martin and the Yankees had their first lead in the series against the Royals.
Of course, all major slumps are very tough to break and after Cano was walked intentionally to load the bases again, Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez struck out looking. So they were 2-for-7 with RISP in the game? So what? They won!
Hochevar gave up three runs on six hits and three walks and struck eight in 6 2/3 innings.
The Royals scored their first run in the third inning on a one-out RBI double by Humberto Quintero, which followed a leadoff single by Irving Falu. The Royals added a run in the fourth on a two-out solo home run off the bat of Francouer.
With the victory the Yankees climb a game above .500 at 22-21. The Royals are 17-25.
- I very much like the way Hughes pitched in this game. He was aggressive early in the count with his fastball. The Quintero double was on a very bad 0-2 pitch that was over the plate. The home run by Francouer came when he fell behind 2-0 and he had to throw a fastball. Hughes’ best pitching came when he walked the bases loaded in the sixth with two outs. He was able to get Falu on a flyout to left to preserve his victory. In his last four starts, Hughes is 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA and he has struck out 23 batters in his last 25 2/3 innings.
- Soriano is settling in nicely as the closer. He is 3-for-3 in save opportunities and he is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA on the season. He has also posted 12 scoreless outings of his 16 appearances this season. He may not be Mariano Rivera but he still is pretty good.
- When Cano last faced Hochevar in Kansas City on May 6 he hit a grand slam home run that led the Yankees to a 10-4 victory that split the series. Cano has six hits off Hochevar in his career, three of them home runs and two of those have been grand slams.
It is not good to dwell on the negative when there has been so much negative associated with the team this month. We are not going down that road.
Rivera paid his first visit to the Yankees clubhouse on Tuesday since he suffered his torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee on May 3 in Kansas City. Rivera is walking without the aid of crutches but he will not undergo knee surgery until he is first treated for a blood clot in his right calf and he strengthens his right knee. . . . The team entered Tuesday’s game 6-for-72 (.083) with runners in scoring position in the past nine games and they were also just one for the last 21 at-bats with the bases loaded until Jeter singled with the bases loaded on Tuesday. Their last hit with bases loaded was Cano’s grand slam off Hochevar on May 6.
After the ticker-tape parade and the presentation of the key to the city by the mayor, the Yankees will play the rubber game of their three-game set with the Royals.
Left-hander Andy Pettitte (1-1, 2.51 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Pettitte, 39, is coming off a vintage performance on Friday against the Reds in which he pitched eight shutout innings. He gave up just four hits and one walk while striking out nine in only his second start of his 2012 comeback. In the last 10 seasons against the Royals, Pettitte is 8-2 with a 3.80 ERA.
The Royals are starting 22-year-old left-hander Will Smith, who will be making his major-league debut. He was 1-3 with a 4.01 ERA at Triple-A Omaha. I guess manager Ned Yost figures why not throw a rookie because the Yankees’ offense may be in no condition to do much damage to him.
Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.