Yankee fans should be happy with this split of the four game set with the White Sox. Apart from their 14-7 drubbing Friday night the Yankees won two of the four games at least solidly and should have won three of them. Phil Hughes was the main star of today’s game, while the stars of the offense were Eric Chavez and Robinson Cano.
Phil continued his solid pitching. He tossed eight strong innings on just 106 pitches, allowing only six hits and one walk while striking out eight. That is dominance. Hughes only encountered a bit of trouble in the first inning when he allowed two runs to score on RBI singles from Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rios. After that he shut the door. The White Sox didn’t get a lick of offense the rest of the game.
The Yankee bats took it from there. The Bombers loaded the bases with no outs against Gavin Floyd in the first, and came away with nothing. (This not hitting with runners in scoring position thing is really, really tired.) For a moment it looked as though the Bombers had let an opportunity slip away before Eric Chavez tied the game with one swing of the bat. He knocked a ball over the wall in right with Raul Ibanez already on the base paths, knotting the score at 2-2.
One inning later Robinson Cano plated the final runs of the game. He clobbered yet another home run, a no-doubter off the bat into the right field bleachers, a two-run job that scored Mark Teixeira as well. The Yankees took a 4-2 lead. That was all the team would need. Hughes was solid and he handed the ball right to Rafael Soriano, who did his thing in the ninth inning.
As an aside, on Robinson Cano, he has turned into a different hitter than most analysts predicted. When Robbie first burst onto the scene with his .342 AVG season in 2006 everyone thought that “he’d win a batting title some day”, to beat an over used phrase just a little more. Now that Robbie is hitting .310 after a .302 season in 2012 that batting title seems unlikely anytime soon. However, what no one predicted was the amount of power Cano would produce. While Robbie hasn’t really turned into a perennial .320+ AVG guy, he has turned into a perennial .520+ SLG guy. Right now he’s got an SLG of .591 and is on pace for more than 40 homers. He’ll probably cool off, but if he continues to hit this way analysts should begin wondering if he’ll pace the league in homers some day.
Things are about to get dicey for the Yankees. The team pulled away from the hyper competitive AL East for a large stretch of games and did precisely what it needed to do: It took care of business and jumped out to a solid lead in the division. That lead will be tested. Beginning Monday the Yankees march into Tropicana field for a three game stretch against the Tampa Bay Rays before heading to Beantown to face the Red Sox in a four game set. That’s as tough a road trip as any team will get. Thankfully the Yankees have given themselves the kind of cushion on first place they need to absorb the tough schedule.
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