Yanks muscle their way back atop AL East
There was good reason for Yankees fans to be nervous about Friday night’s game against the Orioles. The Yankees’ starter was Phil Hughes, who was tied with two other American League pitchers for the most home runs allowed this season with 32. Baltimore is second to the Yankees in home runs in the AL and was off a six-tater game Thursday night.
Hughes ended up yielding another home run, a three-run shot to Adam Jones in the sixth inning, but by then was working with a seven-run lead, thanks to long ball slugging by his teammates. Muscle returned to the Yankees’ lineup Friday night, and because of that they returned to the top of the AL East all by themselves.
Home runs accounted for all but one of the runs in the Yankees’ 8-5 victory that pushed the Orioles one game behind in the standings in the middle game of a four-game set at Camden Yards. All of the O’s runs were on homers as Robert Andino and Manny Machado had solo blows off Cody Eppley and Rafael Soriano, respectively. Yet because of the Yanks’ outburst against Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen they had the Birds climbing uphill throughout the game.
Russell Martin got the Yanks off to their rousing start with a three-run shot in the fourth. Martin, who has straddled the Mendoza line all year and is hitting .204, has had a strong trip with 6-for-14 (.429) with one double, two home runs and seven RBI.
Andruw Jones, who is also in Mendoza line territory at .206, poked a single one out later and came home on Steve Pearce’s first home run with the Yankees and his fourth of the year. All Pearce needs to catch Alex Rodriguez with home runs for the Yankees is 299.
A-Rod banged his 300th home run with the Yankees, a two-out, two-run drive that traveled more than 430 feet to left-center. It seemed like gravy at the time but proved an important clout when Jones took Hughes deep in the sixth. Rodriguez became the sixth player with 300 home runs for the Yankees, joining Babe Ruth (659), Mickey Mantle (536), Lou Gehrig (493), Joe DiMaggio (361) and Yogi Berra (358). The Yankees are the first franchise to have six players hit 300 or more home runs for the team. The Braves and Red Sox have five apiece.
It was part of a milestone night for A-Rod. His second-inning single pushed him past Mel Ott and into 39th place on the career hits list with 2,877. Career home run No. 645 gave Rodriguez his 1,882nd career run, which tied him with Tris Speaker for 10th place on the all-time list.
Derek Jeter had three hits to raise his major-league-leading total to 186 and batting average to .320. The Captain’s third hit was a screeching single past Andino in the ninth that scored Ichiro Suzuki with a welcomed extra run that gave Soriano plenty of a cushion in the bottom half in a non-save situation.
Hughes had a good fastball and effective changeup that helped him take a four-hit shutout into the sixth. He and four Yankees relievers also managed to keep Mark Reynolds, who had six home runs over his previous four games against them, in the yard. David Robertson made a nice comeback from Thursday night’s debacle. He struck out Jones, who hit a tiebreaking home run off him the night before. Boone Logan also got two key outs in the seventh one night after giving up a home run to the only batter he faced.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter will start lefthanders again Saturday night and Sunday, but the lightning that came off the right-handed bats in the Yankees’ lineup should give him reason to be concerned.