As the Yankees flew out of Kansas City on Sunday, Joe Girardi made it clear that he was not satisfied. The Yankees had not won a series since late July, and splitting in Kansas City was not going to be enough to win the American League East. The Yankees needed to start winning series, and they needed to that soon.
They did that today.
“Lately we’ve been tying a lot of series,” Girardi said. “As we know, in our division, you need to win series because we’re in an extremely tough division. After losing the first (game), kind of a heartbreaker, it was really good to see.”
After losing the series opener against Detroit, the Yankees weren’t in a particularly good spot. Their offense was struggling even before Alex Rodriguez went down with a calf injury. Add the lingering injury that would eventually land Lance Berkman on the disabled list, and they weren’t in a great spot to finally get a series win.
But Robinson Cano hit a home run in three straight games as the cleanup hitter. Austin Kearns had a two-run double tonight and is hitting .355 since coming to the Yankees. Curtis Granderson drove in the trying run and is rolling with his new mechanics.
“You can’t look too much into it,” Kearns said. “You’re in there, no matter who you are. If you’re filling in for the day, I think everybody has confidence in whoever it is to step in and be able to get it done.”
• Girardi refused to comment on the Roger Clemens situation, but Berkman and Jorge Posada each expressed support for their former teammate. “I don’t care what happens, I love the guy,” Berkman said. “I just feel bad for him and for his family. He’s a big boy. He’ll face up to whatever it is, but it doesn’t change my opinion of him at all.”
• Posada on passing Thurman Munson on the Yankees all-time hits list: “I really got to know him as I got here. I really enjoy the way he played and I really look up to him, especially playing the position that he played. The way he played (and) his leadership, it means a lot to me.”
• Cano had three home runs in the past three games. Miguel Cabrera had four home runs in the four game series. If I had an MVP vote this season — I’m voting ROY — I’d probably be leaning toward Josh Hamilton right now, but those two have been incredible. “It seems like home run and Cabrera kind of go hand-in-hand right now,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of the Cabrera home run, it came on the first curveball of the at-bat. “A 3-2 curveball in the first inning, I thought it was a decent pitch,” Phil Hughes said. “Just shows you how he’s swinging the bat.”
• When he was taken out of the game, Hughes had retired 11 in a row and 15 of the past 16 hitters.
• Girardi on the Granderson’s great catch in the fourth inning: “When Gardy came in the dugout I said, ‘Nice catch Gardy.’ He said, ‘I didn’t catch it, Grandy did.’ So I had to take it back and tell Grandy nice catch.”
• Hughes and CC Sabathia each have 15 wins. It’s the first time since 2006 the Yankees have had two 15-game winners before September. In ’06 it was Randy Johnson and Chien-Ming Wang.
• This is the first time Cano has homered in three straight games.
• Sergio Mitre pitched the final three innings, meaning he picked up his first career save.
• The Yankees lead baseball with 39 come-from-behind wins. That includes 12 of their past 19 wins.
Associated Press photos of Jeter, Cano and Daniel Fratto, who handled the public address announcing for the Yankees two-run fourth inning and did play-by-play during the HOPE Week game afterward. The kid was awesome. It wasn’t even a situation where it was cute that he was trying it. He was just good at it.