Apologies for the brevity of this recap, but I was a little short on time tonight. After a strong pitching performance by Hiroki Kuroda in Monday’s game, Phil Hughes looked to keep the line moving against the surprisingly decent Cleveland Indians squad. He went up against Justin Masterson, Cleveland’s righty-killing groundball specialist.
After a scoreless 1st and a 1-2-3 top of the 2nd, the Yankees got to Masterson in the bottom of the frame. Mark Teixeira walked to lead off the inning, and after outs by Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez, Dewayne Wise singled to right to bring Teixeira to 3rd, and give the Yankees a chance to improve their numbers with RISP. Consecutive infield singles by Chris Stewart and Derek Jeter scored a run and then loaded the bases for Curtis Granderson. The Grandyman did, singling to left to drive in 2, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
Hughes worked around 2 singles to lead off the 3rd by inducing a double-play grounder from Shin-Soo Choo and a lineout by Asdrubal Cabrera. After a 1-2-3 4th, Hughes also made use of the twin-killing in the 5th. A leadoff single by Johnny Damon was erased by a groundball double-play by Casey Kotchman and a flyout by Jack Hannahan.
The Yankees added another run in the bottom of the 5th when a leadoff walk by Granderson, an Alex Rodriguez lineout, and a single by Robinson Cano put runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. Mark Teixeira came through, hitting a sac fly to center to score Granderson, and give the Yankees a 4-0 lead.
The way Hughes was pitching, it might as well have been a 10-run lead. He worked around 2 1-out singles in the 6th by Choo and Cabrera by striking out Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, 2 dangerous hitters, to keep the Indians scoreless. In the 7th, Michael Brantley doubles to lead off the inning, but Hughes kept him from scoring by retiring the next 3 batters on a grounder and 2 flyball outs. The 3rd out, a foul ball to Dewayne Wise, ended up being an embarrassing umpire blooper. Wise dove into the stands in an attempt to corral a foul ball, but the ball hit off the heel of his glove and bounced to a fan about 10 feet away from him. Nonetheless, Wise held up his glove as if he held on to the ball, and the 3rd-base umpire called the batter, Jack Hannahan, out.
An Alex Rodriguez homer and a Chris Stewart sac fly made it a 6-0 deficit going into the top of the 9th, and Hughes gave way to Cory Wade to close it out after a 1-2-3 8th. Wade quickly ran into trouble as Kipnis doubled to right-center. After retiring Santana and Brantley, consecutive singles by Kotchman and Damon and a home run by Jose Lopez put the Indians within striking distance at 6-4. Wade was pulled in favor of Rafael Soriano, who got Kipnis to ground out to earn a 1-out save.
Overall, it was a strong outing from Phil Hughes, which was an encouraging occurrence. He gave up 6 hits and a walk in 8 shutout innings, and struck out 4. He also induced 5 groundball outs and 2 double plays, not very typical for the flyball pitcher that Hughes has become. Nonetheless, Hughes was fairly efficient with his pitches, and was able to work out a number of leadoff hits to keep the Indians scoreless. Cory Wade’s outing was fairly disappointing, and he has had some struggles of late, but he has been too good as a Yankee for me to worry much about him.
On the offensive side, Jeter, Swisher and Stewart all had multi-hit games, with the latter two driving in two runs apiece. Alex Rodriguez hit a monster home run to left, and it was nice to see him show his power after some recent struggles. Stewart’s performance was a pleasant surprise, as he has been fairly anemic with the stick of late.
Although it got a little ugly at the end, a win is a win, and the Yankees made it 4 in a row (and 14 out of 16) with their victory tonight. Andy Pettitte will take the hill for the Yankees on Wednesday, and will look to keep the strong pitching going.
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