Girardi has many reasons to savor 500th victory
Joe Girardi’s 500th managerial victory will be easy for him to remember because so many things went well for the Yankees. When two teams with six-game winning streaks collide, something has got to give, but all the American League East leading Yanks gave the National League East leading Nationals Friday night was trouble.
In their 7-2 victory, the Yankees got another strong start from Phil Hughes, they got big hits with runners in scoring position, had a hit with the bases loaded and came within one out of winning a game without hitting a home run. Curtis Granderson ruined that possibility when he slammed his 20th homer with two down in the ninth, but that was fine for Girardi.
The manager was even able to work David Robertson into the mix by using him in a non-save situation in the ninth. Robbie showed some rust by allowing a run on a pair of doubles, but it was nice to see him back in a game for the first time in more than a month.
Hughes scattered six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings to win his third straight start. It was a one-run game while Hughes was on the mound in a duel with Nationals lefthander Gio Gonzalez, who is 8-3 this season but sustained his fourth straight loss to the Yankees as his career record against them fell to 1-5.
Actually, Gonzalez was out of the game by the time the Yankees broke it open. Manager Davey Johnson lifted Gonzalez, who seemed none too happy about it, after he gave up a leadoff single to Andruw Jones in the seventh. The Yanks then roughed up relievers Brad Lidge and Mike Gonzalez for four runs.
Derek Jeter got the bases-loaded hit, a single. Another run scored on a wild throw by shortstop Ian Desmond. Granderson doubled in two more runs. The Yankees had 4-for-8 (.500) with runners in scoring position. Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada provided a shutout inning of relief apiece before Robertson worked the ninth.
The 2-1 lead Hughes worked with was supplied by RBI singles from Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher. For A-Rod, the RBI was career No. 1,924, which tied him with Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx for sixth place on the all-time list. In the fifth spot is another Hall of Famer, Stan Musial, at 1,951. And just the other day, Rodriguez matched Lou Gehrig’s grand slam mark of 23. A-Rod is running elbows with an awful lot of Hall of Famers these days.
Hughes, whose record improved to 7-5, has pitched to a 1.29 ERA over his past three starts, all victories. Going back further, over his past eight starts since May 6, Hughes is 6-1 with a 3.27 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings. The righthander has lowered his ERA over that stretch from 7.48 to 4.50. Hughes also ran his career record in inter-league play to 4-1 with a 3.55 ERA.
It was the Yankees’ first game at Nationals Park. They are 19-18 in their debut games at new stadiums in the expansion era dating to 1961.