Slammin’: Ibanez’s bases clearing homer lifts Yankees over Blue Jays


The New York Yankees are linked to players each year around the trade deadline and yesterday talk of going after an outfielder began to peak when it was announced Brett Gardner had his third setback with his injured elbow. General manager Brian Cashman has been preaching that moves won’t be made for moves sake and that he is comfortable with the roster as currently constituted. Raul Ibanez may have further cemented that stance with a tie-breaking grand slam in last night’s 6-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ibanez, who did plenty of damage earlier in the season, has been quiet in the run production department of late. Entering last night’s game he had only 8 RBI in his last 32 games. After last night’s showing he’s produced a triple slash of .242/.303/.463 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI for the season. These are not Earth shattering numbers but once combined with the production from Andruw Jones, Dewayne Wise and Jayson Nix, the performance out of left field is tolerable when the rest of the lineup is generating runs. To this point in the season, that has not been an issue.

The players in the left field role have also had their share of game changing performances. Ibanez put his stamp on last night’s game in a crucial spot.

In the home-half of the eighth and the game tied at two, Alex Rodriguez stroked a one-out single, his second hit of the night, and moved to third on a single by Robinson Cano. Cano incidentally increased his hitting streak to 19 games earlier in the contest with a double scoring Rodriguez. Mark Teixeira was hit by a pitch and Nick Swisher struck out looking in an eight-pitch at-bat. Up came Ibanez and he sent the fifth straight fastball he saw from reliever Jason Frasor into the second deck in right field.

Cody Eppley started the ninth inning but allowed two base runners forcing Girardi to go to closer Rafael Soriano. Soriano allowed one runner to score, but finished the game with a strikeout for his 23rd save in 24 chances.

The Yankees received a great effort from starting pitcher Phil Hughes (7 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 3 BB and 4 K) and David Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Russell Martin homered in second inning for the first Yankee run and they increased the lead on Cano’s double.

The Blue Jays inched back into the game on a solo home run by Adam Lind and a RBI-double off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion, scoring Jose Bautista. Bautista left the game in the eighth inning after taking a swing and hearing a pop in his left wrist. X-rays were negative and Bautista is expected to have a MRI today.

The Yankees (55-34) increased their lead in the American League East to nine games as the Baltimore Orioles were trounced by the Minnesota Twins. The Blue Jays (45-45) slip to 10.5 games back of the Bombers.

CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.45 ERA) gets back into action tonight after spending a few weeks on the disabled list with a strained groin. Sabathia has had plenty of success against the Blue Jays in his career, going 12-3 in 16 starts with a 3.16 ERA. He’ll face Brett Cecil (2-1, 6.75 ERA), who was knocked around for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last start. Cecil is 4-3 with a 4.97 ERA in 52 2/3 innings against the Yankees.