Alex Rodriguez called the Yankees’ five-run third “one of the best offensive innings we’ve had all year.” There were three hits, three walks, one homer (the three-run shot by Russell Martin), one error, one wild pitch and two steals, plus a Nick Swisher sacrifice.
“We get small ball and Bronx ball going back and forth, it’s going to be a lot of fun for us,” Swisher said. “A little Swisher-ism.”
Eduardo Nunez may be an adventure in the field sometimes, but he does have his value, especially in the small-ball game.
“I think I can run a little bit,” Nunez said.
He led off the big rally by working out a full-count walk. The following inning, he led off again and reached on an error before stealing second and third and scoring on an A-Rod sac fly in the fourth. His speed gives the Yankees an ability to create runs that they had been lacking without Brett Gardner.
“He changes the game offensively for us,” Rodriguez said about Nunez. “He has a unique package where he has power, speed and he has enough recklessness where it’s really helpful for our lineup.”
Martin has finally perked up in this lineup. His average is up to all of .209 after a 10-game stretch in which he has batted .343 with three homers and 11 RBI.
“The laws of averages, they’re on my side right now,” Martin said. “I just feel like I’m seeing the ball well.”
Joe Girardi saw Derek Jeter, the DH for the fourth straight game, still limping a little on the bases thanks to the bone bruise in his left ankle.
“I think it’s still hurt,” Girardi said. “I don’t see him as the shortstop yet right now as we speak.”
Girardi said he will see how Jeter feels on Tuesday following the off day. Jeter is one hit away from his eighth 200-hit year and his first since 2009, impressive at age 37/38 this season.
Hiroki Kuroda got some run support, which hasn’t always been the story of his season. He gave up four runs and four hits over six, with three runs coming in the sixth, two on a bad-hop single by Evan Longoria. Kuroda is 14-10 with a 3.26 ERA.
“With that kind of run support, I wanted to go deep in the game … but I hit that bump in the sixth inning,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “That’s the only regret I have.”
The Yankees have won two in a row, four of five, five of seven and seven of 11.
“We talked about playing better baseball,” Girardi said. “We starting to do that.”
“I think September is going to be the biggest blessing in disguise for us,” Alex Rodriguez said. “This is the kind of baseball we’re going to have to play to win in October. And the other thing is, these are playoff-caliber games. We’re stepping up to the occasion a little bit.”