(Looks like a base hit to me. Courtesy of Reuters)
Hey look at that! The Yankees won a game! And they're not in last place! This is certainly a surprising event. All kidding aside, last night was a step in the right direction for the Yankees. They got a good starting pitching performance, knocked a few hits with RISP, and started to show some signs of life after basically being a bunch of zombies over the last 10 games.
- Phil Hughes actually looked pretty sharp early last night. He was primarily fastball-curveball again, but he did mix in some changeups here and there. He gave up a run in the 3rd on a Humberto Quintero, but he also got 4 strikeouts and 4 groundouts.
- I don't know if there's any truth to it, but it feels like Jeff Francoeur always does something against the Yankees. In the 4th, he got a belt-high fastball from Hughes in a fastball count (2-0) and belted it into the left field bleachers for a solo HR and a 2-0 KC lead. Even when they're pitching well, the XBHs are still hurting the Yankee starters.
- After being silent through the first third of the game, the Yankee offense finally stirred in the bottom half of the 4th when Robinson Cano smacked his 5th HR of the year to cut the lead in half.
- Hughes threw up a quick 0 in the 5th and the Yankee O went right back to work. A pair of singles by Teix and Dewayne Wise sandwiched around a Russell Martin HBP put them in another bases loaded, no outs situation and this time they didn't waste it. Derek Jeter singled home a run, Curtis Granderson plated the go-ahead on a groundout and it was 3-2 Yankees.
- More runs could have been scored in the inning, but Luke Hochevar struck out A-Rod and Raul Ibanez to end the inning. With the team coming into the game on a 6-72 skid with RISP, you take the baby steps and hope they can build on it.
- Hughes started to run out of gas in the 6th and got the ball up in the zone a bit, but he managed to work around trouble and keep the Royals off the board to maintain the 3-2 Yankee lead as he turned it over to the bullpen.
- Joe played mix-and-match with the 'pen in the last 3, using Cory Wade for 2 outs, Boone Logan for 1, Cody Eppley for 1, and Clay Rapada for 2 on a lineout DP to Teix to end the 8th. Soriano worked a scoreless 9th for the save. They had to be good, because the offense didn't put any runs on the board after the 5th, and they were.
- Hughes: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, W. I scoffed when he said it, but Phil seems to be onto something with his "reliever mentality" thing. He was aggressive last night, threw a lot of strikes (74 on 106 pitches), and got more groundball outs than flyball outs. If he can locate, he can be effective.
- Jeter: 1-4, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 LOB. Not an eye-popping stat line by any means, but Jeter came through with that bases loaded hit, and if the offense starts to come around in the next few games, I'm going to look back to that hit as the one that got things moving in the right direction. It was a hit that the team needed, in a lot of ways, and The Captain came through.
- Cano: 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 LOB. The walk was intentional, by Hochevar in the 5th before he struck out A-Rod and Ibanez. When Cano is getting intentionally walked to load the bases, you know he's on a hot streak.
- Nick Swisher: 0-3, 1 K, 2 LOB. Has anybody seen Nick Swisher? Because this slob hitting .239 with a .299 OBP can't possibly be him.
A series win sure would be nice, for team morale and my morale. There were positive signs last night, but the offense still isn't all the way back. Andy Pettitte is back on the mound tonight after his incredible outing last Friday. He goes up against Luis Mendoza, who if my memory is correct is a former member of the gold medal-winning US Junior Goodwill Games hockey team.