The Yankees saw the Baltimore score. They knew it was an Orioles blowout, and that mean the Yankees had to win to maintain a division lead. This was a win they needed, and they got it done.
“They put (the Orioles score) on the board,” Russell Martin said. “Everybody saw it I think. It really doesn’t affect how you go about your business. Obviously we want them to lose as much as possible, but they don’t really seem like they want to give in.”
Eleven runs. Alert defensive plays. Clutch hits with two outs. Here and now, this was a good night for the Yankees. But it’s hard to ignore two things: Robinson Cano is going for an X-ray — the Yankees expect it to be negative, but still, it’s Cano — and Hiroki Kuroda has really struggled lately. If not for the Blue Jays horrible baserunning, Kuroda might not have gotten out of here with just two runs through 5.1 innings.
“I’m not 100 percent,” Kuroda said. “… I don’t think it was fatigue. It was something mechanical. I don’t know if it’s tied to physical, but what I can do is prepare for the next start. That’s what I’m going to do.”
Kuroda skipped his between-starts bullpen this week, and tonight he matched his single-season high in innings pitched, matching his 2005 total from Japan. His velocity has been good — pretty much what the Yankees have seen all season — but Kuroda said he’s not getting the usual movement on his two-seamer and his offspeed pitches.
“I’m not (worried),” Joe Girardi said. “Pitchers go through that. I thought he did a really good job and I expect his next outing to be really crisp. … I’ve just seen him bounce back, I’ve seen him bounce back from a start when he hasn’t been as sharp, and I think he will.”
Despite the workload and the rocky results these past five starts, Kuroda said he feels fine. He has one more start this season to try to get things straightened out before the playoffs, when the Yankees are going to need him.
“I feel fine,” Kuroda said. “I feel like I can still throw a lot of pitches.”
• The Yankees scored nine runs with two outs tonight, beginning with Swisher’s two-out, two-run double in the first to give them an early lead. The home runs by Martin and Eric Chavez each came with two outs, as did the RBI singles by Cano and Ichiro Suzuki. “Two-out hits are huge,” Girardi said. “It seems to give your club momentum and take a little bit out of the other club. And I think a lot of times, I always feel too that when you get in situation and you should score runs and don’t score runs, it gives the other club a lift too.”
• Last night was a bad night for the offense, this one was completely different. “Sometimes you kind of come out flat,” Swisher said. “I feel like yesterday we didn’t have a lot of energy. Today we definitely came to the ballpark ready to go. That’s the team I like to see play every day.”
• Swisher’s not-quite-expert opinion on the Cano injury: “I feel like I look at Robbie and that dude’s made of steel. Seems like he plays all the time. Anytime you’re talking about hands, you get a little concerned. But after I saw him staying in the game, I felt a little better.”
• Girardi’s explanation for using Rafael Soriano and Dave Robertson: “You don’t want to give these guys too many days off, that’s the bottom line. Sori hadn’t pitched in a week. Robby, we went through the order and I want to give him a little bit of wiggle room. These are the games you have to make sure you win.”
• Martin’s strong September continues. Tonight he reached 20 home runs for the first time in his career. “It’s nice to get a career high at home in front of my family and friends, absolutely,” Martin said. “It feels good.
• Martin’s snap pickoff throw to third base was all about communication with Alex Rodriguez. “Al just kind of flashed he’s getting a big lead over there,” Martin said. “We haven’t used it much this year, so I guess they don’t really anticipate it. Just a good play. Good tag by Al and a good throw by me.”
• Also a really nice play by Swisher to get Brett Lawrie too far off second base in the first inning. “Rasmus hit a rocket right at me,” Swisher said. “I think Lawrie’s first instinct was just to go to third. Jeet made a great backdoor pick right there, I kinda hit him in stride. Especially in the first inning, a leadoff double, to be able to get him out at second, next thing you know we’re sitting there, runner on first, one out. Situation like that, kind of an instinctive play. Me and Jeet just read each other and made the play.”
• Of Swisher’s 92 RBI this season, 71 have come left-handed. … Chavez’s home run was his 15th of the year. … Kuroda’s 10 runs allowed tied his season-high.
• Last word goes to Swisher: “I think hitting is contagious. It’s like once one guy does it, here it comes. We’ve been on a roll the last couple weeks, playing good baseball. If we just keep going out there and playing our game like we did today – moving runners, or at least having the thought of moving runners, runners on second, we had a couple guys try to drag bunt. We did the little things today, and it’s a lot of fun right now.”
Associated Press photos