There seemed to be an agreement between the manager and the right fielder that Nick Swisher began really pressing in the last week or so. Joe Girardi said the weekend games in Baltimore triggered some frustration because Swisher had hit the ball well but had nothing to show for it. Swisher pointed to the Baltimore series as well, but for a different reason.
“I think they really started eating at me, especially when Gardy started going deep,” Swisher said.
Swisher and Brett Gardner have one of those friendships. They’re constantly joking with one another, and when they can, they give one another a hard time. Even with Swisher frustrated by his numbers, Gardner wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to gain the upper hand. Gardner went deep once this weekend in Baltimore. Then he hit another home run at home. He hit his third home run of the season tonight, jump starting that six-run fifth inning.
“Nothing in particular,” Gardner said. “Just maybe a little thing like asking him how many home runs he has this year… By no means is me giving him a hard time going to put him down in the dumps, you guys know him well enough to know that.”
Tonight, Swisher told Gardner that he’s starting to catch up.
Said Swisher: “I think that home run’s always in the back of my mind. Tonight, just to get a couple of knocks, that little 16-hopper through the left side, that definitely makes me smile a little bit. Just trying to get something to keep rolling, and hopefully it just keeps rolling through the rest of the season.”
Said Gardner: “(Home runs are) not really my game, so I’m not really worrying about it too much. If that happens, then I’m happy. For me, my swing, I’m much more comfortable with the ball I hit in the seventh inning, the double to left-center. That’s my game and that’s where I need to stay.”
And here’s Gardner.
• CC Sabathia became the fifth straight Yankees starter to allow one earned run or less. He pitched seven innings without an earned run. All three White Sox runs came after an error in the seventh. After going winless in four starts, Sabathia has now won his past two.
• With some help from Alex Rodriguez — who made a nice throw to the plate — Sabathia stranded four runners in the first two inning. “You can look at that and possibly say that’s the difference in the ballgame,” Joe Girardi said. “Those first two innings, he strands a lot of runners, they have second and third with nobody out and the heart of their order coming up. I think he’s able to do that because he doesn’t think about what happened in the past. He’s able to focus on what he needs to do to the next hitter; he’s able to relax on the mound. He doesn’t get flustered and just makes pitches.”
• The bottom of the fifth took 32 minutes. “I was just pretty much down in the cage,” Sabathia said. “I got a little bit of extra heat put on my shoulder and elbow. Just make sure I keep a sweat. Whether that’s throwing balls in the cage or hoping on the bike, whatever you’ve got to do to just keep sweating.”
• The first nine Yankees reached base without making an out in the fifth inning. It was the first time the Yankees did that since 2002, according to Elias.
• Gardner and Swisher combined for five hits, six runs and two walks. “It’s just great to be making contact,” Gardner said. “For a little while I wasn’t even really making contact. I felt good at the plate today. That’s the best I’ve felt maybe even since the start of spring training. It’s all about maintaining consistency.”
• The Yankees actually had a 2-0 lead before they had a hit. Edwin Jackson walked four straight batters and allowed a sacrifice fly in the third inning to put the Yankees in front. “They just put some good at-bats on Jackson,” Girardi said. “Made him work and saw a lot of pitches.”
• Alex Rodriguez had his 859th RBI as a Yankee, passing Paul O’Neill for sole possession of 13th place on the franchise list.
• Two more hits for Robinson Cano. He has a hit in 16 of his past 17 game and 19 of 22 this season.
• In what might have been his final rehab start, Francisco Cervelli played all of tonight’s Triple-A game at catcher. He went 0-for-4 with a walk. On a related note, Gustavo Molina had his first hit as a Yankee.
• Eduardo Nunez had his first two hits of the season. He also made two errors, which could have a lot to do with a lot of time on the bench this first month. “I have confidence in myself,” Nunez said. “And I have to work on my defense.”
• Not a good minor league start for Kevin Millwood, who allowed six runs through two innings. He can opt out of his minor league contract on Sunday.
Associated Press photos