One day after a heartbreaking defeat, the New York Yankees offense continued to heat up hitting three homers and Phil Hughes made it stand up with six solid innings of three-run ball as the Yankees jumped back ahead of the Orioles in the American League East with an 8-5 victory at Camden Yards.
The Yankees (78-60) showed they were dead serious when they said that Thursday night’s loss was hard to swallow, but would not affect them going forward. The offensive production came from important players and Hughes’ pitching performance spoke volumes about whether or not he can handle September and October pressure.
The Yankee homers came from Russell Martin, Steve Pearce and Alex Rodriguez; all against Wei Yin Chen who allowed seven of the Yankees’ eight runs. Martin is finally looking like he may have found his offensive arsenal. He’s got his average “all the way up” to .204 with his 1-for-4 performance. He is hitting .290 with 2 homers and 9 RBI in his last 10 games. Pearce, playing first base as part of the right-handed heavy lineup against the lefty Chen, hit his first homer as a Yankee and Rodriguez blasted his first home run since returning from the disabled list. It was A-Rod’s 645th homer and 300th as a Yankee. Receiving production from a struggling player (Martin), a role player (Pearce) and a player in the middle of the lineup (Rodriguez) is the balanced offensive attack the Yankees will need down the stretch.
Hughes did his part to maintain the Yankees lead and was actually better than that for the first five innings keeping the Orioles off the board. He ran into trouble in the sixth after J.J. Hardy reached on an error by Nick Swisher who was moved to first base prior to the inning. Nate McLouth doubled and then Adam Jones launched a three-run blast to get the Orioles within four runs. All of this happened with zero outs and the fans at Camden Yards sensed they could be in for another O’s comeback. But Hughes squelched that idea retiring the next three batters in order. Hughes finished the night allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits, no walks and five strikeouts.
The bullpen allowed two more runs over the next three innings, both on solo shots by Robert Andino and Manny Machado, but the Yankee lead was never in jeopardy. Boone Logan retired all three batters he faced and David Robertson bounced back from Thursday’s debacle getting two outs in the eighth. Rafael Soriano finished off the contest in a non-save situation.
In tonight’s game the Yankees send CC Sabathia (13-4, 3.42 ERA) to the hill in hopes of extending their AL East lead over the Orioles. Baltimore has freshly acquired Joe Saunders (7-11, 4.26 ERA; 1-1, 4.63 ERA with Orioles) on the mound.