Yanks rain hits on Orioles to avoid sweep
The only question Wednesday seemed to be if the rain that fell lightly but persistently for several innings would wash away all the scoring the Yankees had done over the first three innings. The day after blowing a 5-0, first-inning lead in an embarrassing loss to the Orioles, the Yankees had their offensive motor on full throttle and despite a somewhat shaky outing by Phil Hughes were able to avoid being swept by their closest pursuers in the American League East.
Two runs in the first inning, two more in the second and a whopping seven in the third had the Yanks cruising away toward an eventual 12-3 victory.
The Yankees’ lineup had a different look. Newest import Casey McGehee, who was obtained by Yankees Tuesday in a trade from the Pirates, was at first base spelling Mark Teixeira, who is sidelined by a sore left wrist. McGehee drove in the Yankees’ 12th run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and also walked twice and scored two runs.
Ichiro Suzuki made his first start in left field in 10 years and had the Yankee Stadium crowd of 44,593 buzzing with a wall-climbing catch in the sixth inning to take a potential extra-base hit away from Mark Reynolds.
“The last time I played left field was in the last game [Game 5] of the Division Series that the Mariners lost to the Yankees in 2001,” Ichiro recalled. “With the field larger, I can use more of my range. I just have to get used to it.”
Asked why he played left field instead of right field in that 2001 playoff game, Suzuki smiled and said, “You’ll have to ask Lou,” meaning Piniella, then the Seattle manager.
Joba Chamberlain, fresh off the disabled list, made his first appearance in 14 months and received a standing ovation from the crowd. Unfortunately, the first batter he faced, J.J. Hardy, hit a home run on a ball that Ichiro couldn’t prevent from reaching the seats. Chamberlain showed signs of rust as he was touched for two runs, four hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings.
“It was a day with a lot of emotion for him,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I thought he would be over-pumped up, but he threw strikes and didn’t try to over-throw.”
Hughes allowed nine hits in his six innings but only one run. The Orioles had runners in scoring position in each of Hughes’ innings but failed repeatedly in those situations. They were hitless in 11 such at-bats and stranded nine base runners. For the game, they were 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base.
Meanwhile, the Yankees had a field day with runners in scoring position, which has not been the case much of the year. They had seven hits in 10 at-bats in the clutch over the first three innings in building a 10-run lead. Curtis Granderson started the scoring with his 29th home run in the first inning, and Robinson Cano ended the seven-run third with his 24th homer of the season and ninth career grand slam.
That inning could have been worse for Baltimore except for center fielder Adam Jones’ dazzling grab of a deep drive by Suzuki. By the seventh inning, Orioles manager Buck Showalter began substituting freely, giving the game the look of a spring training exercise.
The Yankees’ 15-hit attack included three hits apiece by Derek Jeter, now batting .316, and Jayson Nix and two hits each for Granderson, Cano and Nick Swisher. With 10 of the Yanks’ previous 12 games having been decided by three runs or less, including six one-run games (all losses), they were in need of a good laugher.
“Even without some guys who are hurt, this offense is capable of scoring a lot of runs,” Girardi said.