The Yankees have scored 32 runs in three days. No lineup can sustain that production long term, but there was a sense that this particular lineup wasn’t capable of it even in small doses. Not with so many guys on the disabled list, and so many replacement types up and down the order.
“I think we all had confidence within ourselves,” Youkilis said. “And that’s probably been the biggest talk, (that) no one’s had confidence in us. So we stick together as a team, keep trying to have good at-bats. For us, personally, it’s just going out there every day and trying to do that. It’s not going to happen every day, of course, but I think guys are trying to learn from their strengths and work on their weaknesses.”
Robinson Cano has three homers in two games, and his batting average has more than doubled in a span of 48 hours. Youkilis has a hit in every game this season. Vernon Wells is batting .360 (with power) and Travis Hafner is hitting .333 (with power). After a slow first week, Brett Gardner just had a four-hit day.
Obviously we’re talking small sample sizes right now, for at least three days, there’s been a real spark in this offense. One that didn’t seem possible only a few days ago. One that seems to have started with that 7-0 win against Justin Verlander.
“It gives you a big boost,” Gardner said. “It’s a game we had to win. Whatever our record was going in, and we had CC on the mound, and any time you’ve got CC on the mound it’s almost a must-win game. He’s our ace, and he pitched great, and against Verlander we were able to get some runs off of him early. Nix was able to give CC the lead, if I remember right, and from then on, we’ve swung the bats pretty well.”
Tonight’s five-homer blowout was an exclamation point to a three-game winning streak that has the Yankees back to .500 for the season.
“It’s hard to make quality pitches all the time,” Andy Pettitte said. “When you don’t make a quality pitch, even the guys in our lineup — I mean, they’re good big league hitters and they have been for a long time. Most of them have been around for a long time and played for a long time. They know what to do if you make bad pitches. It’s not like you’ve got guys out there that are just going to get beat by fastballs that are right down the middle. Our guys can hit. They take a lot of pride in what they’re doing.”
• This is the first time since 2003 that Pettitte has won his first two starts, and he’s won both in convincing fashion with eight strong innings against Boston and now seven strong against Cleveland. “Obviously seven innings, one run, I’ll take that,” Pettitte said. “I don’t like the three walks for sure, but I was able to get some big outs there with some runners in scoring position. And it’s tough sometimes to pitch with too big of a lead. Just start lose your focus a little bit and almost not quite thinking like you should out there. Just glad I was able to get us deep into the game.”
• Pettitte has now tied Jack Quinn for 35th place all time with 247 career wins. “Andy is a guy that keeps people involved,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s not a guy where there’s going to be a lot of long counts usually, he works fairly quickly and guys like to work behind that. Long counts can make the innings long for hitters and they don’t feel like they can get in a rhythm. I think that’s why they like playing behind him.”
• Cano has hit safely in 11 straight games at Progressive Field dating back to July 27, 2010. In those games he’s hit .444 with 13 runs, 10 doubles, five homers and 10 RBI. He’s a career .333 hitter here in Cleveland. “In Detroit, I didn’t hit a ball out of the infield,” Cano said. “I wasn’t making real good contact, so I was missing my pitches. Here, I’ve been able to just take advantage of the strikes.”
• Surprised Carlos Carrasco was ejected immediately after hitting Youkilis? “No, I’m not,” Girardi said. “That was right in the middle of his back after a home run.”
• Of course, it’s worth mentioning that Carrasco was returning from a suspension for hitting Brett Butler way back in 2011 (he had Tommy John and had to finish the suspension after coming back from the injury).
• Big day for Gardner, who was off to a horrible start at the top of the order. In fact, I wonder if the Yankees might have been tempted to drop him from the leadoff spot if Ichiro Suzuki had been hitting worth anything in the first week. Gardner went 4-for-5 today with three runs, two doubles, two RBI and a walk. “I felt like I swung the bat pretty well in Detroit, just didn’t have anything to show for it,” Gardner said. “… Just being ready to hit and swinging at good pitches. It’s pretty simple.”
• Gardner actually seemed to set the tone with his first at-bat of the game. He saw eight pitches, fouled off two 3-2 fastballs, and finally drove a double to the opposite field. “I haven’t been doing a good job getting on base, especially leading off the game,” Gardner said. “I was able to see some pitches off him, backed the ball up and hit it hard to left field. Definitely good to get on there for Robbie.”
• Brennan Boesch hit his first Yankees home run, Lyle Overbay hit his first Yankees home run, and Ichiro hit his first home run of the season. The only Yankees starter without a hit was Travis Hafner, the same guy who had four RBI and a home run yesterday.
• Before they went to the long ball, the Yankees used small ball to take an early lead. They had only one extra-base hit in that four-run second, but a series of two-out singles and walks made the difference. “Those are back-breakers for another team,” Girardi said. “A lot of times you think you’re out of the jam, then all of a sudden… You think about the first four we got, it all started with two outs. It’s just a single, then all of a sudden it’s four runs. Those hurt.”
• We’ll give the final word to Girardi: “When you lose two games in a row in the middle of the season, you don’t think much about it. When you lose two in a row early on, then you win one and then lose two more, you probably think a lot more about it. The last few days, we beat a very good pitcher in Verlander, then to come in here and score a bunch of runs the next two nights, they’ve got to feel pretty good.”
Associated Press photos