Big fourth inning leads Yankees to series sweep of Blue Jays


When was the last time the New York Yankees swept a team? They came close against the Texas Rangers back in mid-August winning the first three games of a four-game series, so keep looking. Done? It was all the way back in mid-July against the Toronto Blue Jays. The same opponent they finished off last night for the three-game sweep with a 10-7 win.

Phil Hughes took the mound today looking for his 16th win of the season, but ran into trouble in the second inning after Adam Lind doubled to lead off the inning and Kelly Johnson doubled him home two batters later. Hughes followed that inning with a bases loaded third, but danced out of it giving up only one run on a hit by pitch, before striking out Johnson to end the inning.

The Yankees answered back in the bottom half of the third with a lead-off home run from the scorching hot, Ichiro Suzuki, who is making a case for more playing time against southpaws. The fourth inning brought a bit of weirdness as Phil Hughes struck out four batters, after a passed ball allowed the second batter to reach base.

Is Swisher coming out of the hole he put himself into in September? Grand slams sure help! (Image: Noah K. Murray/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE)

While Jays’ starter Aaron Laffey was keeping the Yankees hitters at bay the first time around in the order, but the bats came to life (and a little help from poor fielding) in the bottom of the fourth. Russell Martin started the frame with a walk and then stole second base. Curtis Granderson reached on error a batter later and Casey McGehee walked to load the bases. The hot-hitting Ichiro doubled to right field scoring Martin and Granderson, to take the lead 3-2.

However, the Yankees didn’t stop there as Jayson Nix walked, Derek Jeter singled (scoring McGehee). Then, Nick Swisher emptied them all with a grand slam to right field. The Blue Jays didn’t record an out until after the Swisher grand slam, but all told they gave up seven runs.

Toronto did the best they could to make a game of it, as Hughes gave up a two-run home run to Moises Sierra after giving up a walk to Lind in the top of the fifth. But, the Yankees came right back with a two-run fifth inning of their own after Granderson and Nix both doubled (Granderson scored) and Jeter singling home Nix to make it 10-4. From there, Hughes was lifted after the fifth, as he wasn’t economical with his pitches (102 total), but gave up four runs on four hits, three walks, and struck out nine.

The game got interesting in the eighth inning as the Jays mounted a comeback against the Yankees bullpen. Cory Wade, who just hasn’t been the same in 2012 as he was in 2011, gave up a solo home run to Kelly Johnson and sandwiched a strike out between a single and a double. Joba Chamberlain relieved him and promptly allowed both inherited runners to score to make it 10-7.

After recording two saves in the doubleheader two days ago, Rafael Soriano sat in favor of David Robertson, who didn’t disappoint. He struck out the side to end the game and earned his second save of the year.

With this win, the Yankees hold a one-game lead over the extra-inning winning juggernaut Baltimore Orioles. It seems as though the boys in pinstripes are back on track and getting some valuable contributions from some role players as the starters get healthy again. Ichiro was phenomenal this series going 9-for-12 with two doubles, a home run, four RBI, and four stolen bases. Shades of 2001, much?

The Yankees will look to continue this winning streak against the Oakland A’s, who have been bitten hard by the injury bug the past two weeks. However, the Athletics are in the thick of the Wild Card race and look to continue their four-game winning streak over the Yankees in this upcoming weekend series. Yankees’ ace, CC Sabathia (13-6,  3.63 ERA) will take on Jarrod Parker (11-8, 3.51 ERA) in tomorrow’s opener.