BRONX, NY – The combination of effective pitching and the long-ball led to the easy 8-2 victory of the Yankees over the Cleveland Indians in the opening game of the seven game Yankees homestand. The organization and its rooters are hopeful the relatively weak opposition, Cleveland Indians (4 games) and the Baltimore Orioles (3 games), will allow the Yanks to move forward in its challenge to the American League East leaders, the Tampa Rays. The Yanks lost six of its previous nine games prior to the win on Friday.
The two hottest hitters on the Yanks, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher, combined to score the first two runs of the contest in the second. Cano led off the inning with an infield single and scored two pitches later as Swisher blasted his seventh homer of the month into the rightfield stands. After the contest, he commented on the scoring, “The good thing for us is we put some runs on the board and tacked on some more as the game went on. We’ve been scratching and clawing for runs lately.”
The two were also in the middle of the run-run Yankee sixth. After Mark Teixeira walked, Cano singled to center. Swisher followed with another single up the middle. Designated hitter Juan Miranda drew a bases loaded walk to score the first tally of the frame. The second run scored on a sacrifice fly to left by the next batter, Brett Gardner.
The first three Yankees batters reached base in the seventh. Derek Jeter beat out his second infield single of the game. Curtis Granderson, in his first game in the lineup since May 1, doubled to center. Teixeira drew a base on balls to load the sacks. Cano, the A.L. Player of the Month in April, started the month of May with a slump, but has again has been hitting torridly. Cano entered the contest with 15 hits in his last 36 official at bats. He continued the recent pace by driving in four runs with a grand slam to right.
Cano’s recent offensive performances have earned him the spot as clean-up hitter in the absence of Alex Rodriguez in the lineup on Friday. It was the first time in his Yankee career that Cano has batted fourth. After the homer, he remarked, “It’s good to feel what it’s like to be the clean-up hitter.”
The offensive onslaught was not the only Yankees change in its recent play. Starter Phil Hughes reverted to his early season excellence. After two less than impressive starts, Hughes began the game looking un-hittable. He struck out the first five batters he faced. He surrendered his first hit, a double by shortstop Jason Donald, with two out in the third. Hughes gave up his first run of the game during a shaky fourth inning by Hughes. After retiring seven consecutive batters, Hughes gave up his second run on a lead-off homer by first baseman Russell Branyan in the seventh. His use of his off-speed pitches was quite effective. Yankees skipper Joe Girardi said, “He did a batter with his pitch count today…he was able to put people away.”