No need to complicate things. This Yankees offense isn’t at its best when it’s delivering clutch hits with runners in scoring position. This lineup is at its best when it’s hitting balls out of the ballpark like it did tonight.
“Forget about all the technique of it and go out and concentrate on the baseball,” Nick Swisher said. “Like my grandma always said, ‘Just hit the damn ball.’”
That’s what the Yankees did tonight. Five of their six runs came on homers, and their two hits with runners in scoring position were home runs. Robinson Cano hit the 150th of his career. Swisher hit his first since May 6. Mark Teixeira hit his second since May 4.
“You’re going to go through stretches where you’re not going to get hits with runners in scoring position,” Teixeira said. “You’re going to hit balls at people, that’s the name of the game sometimes. But home runs don’t get caught, and we’re at team that’s used to hitting a lot of them. We’d like to hit a little bit more.”
No team can live and die entirely by the home run, but this lineup is built to hit them, and the Yankees are 24-11 when hitting at least one ball out of the park. Driving the ball is the surest way to see results, and the Yankees saw plenty of results tonight. It wasn’t only the home runs, they also had four doubles by four different hitters, and they had five guys had two hits in the game. Derek Jeter was their only starter who failed to reach base. It’s only the second time since April 23 that the Yankees have scored at least six runs in back-to-back games.
“You want them to get on a roll and feel good about themselves,” Joe Girardi said. “It can lead to big things. … These guys are too good for this (slump) to go on. All clubs go though it at times, and it’s no fun to go through it, and it seems like ‘when’s it gonna end’ at times, but we’re starting to swing the bats better.”
• Another solid start from Ivan Nova, who was much happier with his location this time. When he’s struggled, it’s been fastball location that left Nova most disappointed. “His location is something at times he can improve on, and I thought he was better tonight,” Girardi said.
• One concern is that Nova’s already allowed 12 home runs this season, one fewer than he gave up all last season. He gave up two of them tonight, both solo shots. “There’s no reason to give too many homers,” Nova said. “I’m making mistakes, leaving the ball up, and it’s on me. I have to try to do better every time I go out there. I like the way I threw the ball today. I was more down, especially early in the game.”
• Nova is 9-0 with a 3.35 ERA in his past 12 road starts. His road winning streak is one away from tying Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte for the longest by a Yankees pitcher since 1995. Nova is 3-0 with a 4.26 ERA on the road this season, but 2-2 with a 6.46 at home.
• Nova’s hamstring injury has been something of a mystery, but he said it happened after his workout and bullpen on Tuesday. It got tight and left him a little worried initially, but it didn’t really bother him tonight. “I’m not going to say my hamstring was 100 percent, but I feel really good,” Nova said. “The only thing (that matters) is my arm feels good, and the injury that I have is not so serious.”
• Jeter struck out three times tonight, his first three-strikeout game since May 17 of last year. He had a total of three strikeouts in his past eight games.
• Eric Chavez was on the disabled list when the Yankees came to Oakland last season, so this was his first time playing in his old home ballpark. He was booed in his first at-bat, which surprised me, but didn’t surprise Chavez. “When Jason (Giambi) left, they asked me, ‘What do you expect the fans to do?’” Chavez said. “I said, ‘Well, he’s playing for the Yankees. They should boo him.’ I would expect the same thing. I wrote the manual.”
• Although he was thrown out trying to stretch for a triple, there was one encouraging sign when Teixeira was thrown out at third base during the fifth inning. He wasn’t coughing. “I’m feeling a lot better,” he said. “The days off have helped. Yesterday was very nice. I’m just trying to make a little bit of progress every day.” Teixeira said he wouldn’t have been close to third base 10 days ago.
• By the way, what was he thinking in that situation, with no outs? “Man, I always think I’m faster than I am,” Teixeira said. “We’re up 4-1, whenever it’s a close game or you’re down, you don’t want to make the first out at third. I just wanted to push the envelope a little bit. Give the left fielder credit, he turned around and made a nice throw.
Associated Press photos