Welcome back to the American League
So finally we are done with inter-league play for 2012, until the World Series, that is. No more pitchers not hitting, double switches and all that National League stuff as the Yankees got back to American League baseball Monday night at Yankee Stadium. In the long run, however, the Yankees can be grateful to inter-league competition because they increased their all-time lead in inter-league winning percentage by going 13-5 against the NL this year.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi could once again lean on the AL’s designated hitter rule to form his lineup. Monday night, the skipper decided it was time to give Curtis Granderson a night off from center field and used him as the DH. That opened a spot for reserve outfielder DeWayne Wise, who celebrated his rare start by hitting his first home run for the Yankees, a two-run shot to right field in the second inning. It was his first home run since Sept. 25 last year for the Blue Jays against the Rays.
Wise drove in another run in the sixth inning of the 7-1 victory over the Indians when he drilled a triple to right-center that scored Eric Chavez, who had walked with two out. In truth, Wise was fortunate to be credited with a triple because video replays showed that he was tagged out by third baseman Jack Hannahan before he reached the bag. Even though the play occurred in front of the Cleveland dugout, Tribe manager Manny Acta did not argue the call.
The Yankees scored two runs in each of the first three innings against Indians starter Josh Tomlin, who did not come out for the fourth. Robinson Cano was a particular problem for Tomlin. Cano got the two-run thing going in the first inning with a double to right that scored a pair. In the third, Cano and Nick Swisher hit back-to-back home runs as the Yanks continued to add to their major-league leading total of round trippers.
Cano, who took over the top spot at second base over the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler in the latest vote tally of All-Star Game balloting, has homered in six of his past eight games, including two long bombs, both off Miguel Batista, at Citi Field in last weekend’s Subway Series. Cano has 14 home runs over his past 34 games since May 18 after hitting only three homers in his first 38 games of the season.
Hiroki Kuroda pithed pitched brilliantly for seven innings and then sort of hit the wall at 100 pitches. He took a three-hit shutout into the eighth before giving up a single and double to the first two batters and was relieved by Clay Rapada.
Kuroda was nearly as dominant as he had been in a seven-inning one-hitter June 8 against the Mets at the Stadium. Of the 21 outs he recorded, only three were in the outfield. He got 10 outs in the infield and seven on strikeouts. One of the runners he put on scored, but his ERA dropped to 3.40.
It was a crowd-pleasing eighth inning for Swisher, who made all three putouts on running catches in right field and was treated to hearty cheers when he led off the bottom half. He even got cheered after he struck out.