(Gotta admire it when you haven't hit many in a while. Courtesy of the AP)
The last 2 times the Yankees have played Toronto before this series it hasn't gone well. Maybe it was Andy coming back, maybe it was the doubleheader, maybe it was just Ichiro being crazy, video game on fire, but the Yankees turned in a much better performance in terms of doing what needed to be done to win games in this series, and last night was a perfect example. The pitching wasn't great, the offense blew a few opportunities, but they cashed in big in one inning and tacked on insurance when they needed it. Don't look now, but this team has won 5 straight.
- The stuff was definitely there for Phil Hughes last night. The command? Not so much. Hughes got 5 swinging strikeouts in his first 3 innings of work, but he also gave up 2 XBH in the 2nd and a pair of hit batters in the 3rd to go down 2-0.
- Hughes found a little command in the 4th, and he ended up getting himself into the record books. Hughes had to get a 4th out after a Russell Martin passed ball put a runner on. He ended up getting all 4 outs in the inning via strikeout, just the second Yankee pitcher to do it.
- The offense only had 1 hit off Aaron Laffey after 3 innings, but it was an Ichiro HR to keep them within striking distance. They were also making Laffey work by drawing a few walks.
- Those few walks turned into a few more in the bottom of the 4th, and then it spiraled into an all-out offensive assault. Ichiro doubled home 2 more runs (dude is fucking nuts!), Derek Jeter singled home a run, and Nick Swisher slump busted by hitting a grand slam to make it a 7-run inning and an 8-2 Yankee lead.
- Hughes got 2 quick outs in the 5th, and appeared to be adjusting fine to pitching with the big lead, but then he gave up a dreaded 2-out walk and a home run to Moises Sierra. His fastball was popping and his slutter was nasty; he just never really found that command.
- No worries, the offense got him his 2 runs back in the bottom half. Jayson Nix hit a 2-out double to plate Curtis Granderson and The Captain followed that up with an RBI single of his own to make it 10-4.
- He's been mostly bad since his 4-inning save debut, but give credit to Derek Lowe for working 2 scoreless innings behind Phil. He had his sinker working and even got a few strikeouts.
- Things got a little hairy in the 8th with Cory Wade on the mound, but Joba came in to limit the damage and then Joe went back to D-Rob for the 9th after his bombshow in the day game on Wednesday. Robertson showed he had moved on by striking out the side to close things out.
- Ichiro Suzuki: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 K, 1 LOB. After his 2nd at-bat of the game, Ichiro was working a 7-PA hitting streak, which harks back to the days of his prime. He's on fire right now and Joe should leave him in the lineup until he cools back off, against righties or lefties.
- Jeter: 2-4, 1 R, 2 RBI. Just another day at the office for The Captain.
- Robinson Cano: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 LOB. Not involved in the offense in any way, which is almost unthinkable when you're talking about a game with a 7-run inning.
The Yanks can't seem to shake the pesky O's, but they have a chance to put a little ground on their main Wild Card competition with the start of tonight's series against Oakland. They started their best stretch of the season against the A's in May, and one of their worst the last time they faced them in July. CC Sabathia takes the mound tonight.