Before tonight, the Yankees had scored more than five runs in just three of their past 25 games. Tonight they scored five in the sixth inning, and if they hadn’t scored more than five, they wouldn’t have won.
“Sometimes baseball doesn’t make sense,” Joe Girardi said. “On a night where we needed some runs, we got them.”
Or, to put it another way.
“There’s never a time when everything is going perfect for a team,” Ichiro Suzuki said. “You’re always going to have to have the hitters or the pitchers come through at certain points and guys stepping up. We always need to be ready and have guys do their job and we’ll be OK.”
During those two wins in Colorado, the Yankees began talking about an all-hands-on-deck approach, about everyone chipping in when necessary. Tonight it was Lyle Overbay at the plate and Shawn Kelley on the mound. It was Jayson Nix reaching base four times and Ichiro Suzuki coming a triple short of the cycle. Overbay’s number probably stand out the most, but the first thing he said after the game was, “I was part of it.”
The Yankees have won 20 of their past 29, which has them in first place in the American League East. At times it’s hard to understand how this team keeps winning despite the injuries, but the answer seems to be a different thing every night.
“I think it’s really nice because I think they all feel part of something that’s really good going on here,” Girardi said. “It’s just not relying on a couple guys and if those guys don’t hit, you don’t score runs. I talk about every player wants to feel like they’re contributing somehow. I think you look at all 25 guys in there, they feel that.”
• Phil Hughes felt very much a part of his past four starts, but tonight was a letdown with six runs through 5.2 innings. “I wasn’t very good,” Hughes said. “The guys stepped up big, gave me a bunch of runs. I gave away two leads which isn’t a good thing. Those guys kept at it, scored a ton of runs. Fortunately I was able to have my not-so-good day on a day we scored a lot of runs.”
• So what went wrong tonight? “I didn’t have a good fastball, I didn’t have good breaking stuff, and it’s kind of tough to pitch that way,” Hughes said.
• Hughes had not allowed a home run in his past three starts. He allowed two tonight, including one to Jarrod Dyson, who hadn’t hit one all year. “Anybody can take me out of the park these days,” Hughes said. “I don’t really think about that part of it. These are professional hitters. He might be a little guy, but he’s still dangerous. … “I missed with a slider, on a check swing, tried to go back outside with a fastball. It wasn’t in a bad location, but he maybe quickened up, saw too many fastballs inside and that was a killer early on.”
• Dominant pitching performance by Shawn Kelley, who faced seven batters and stuck out six of them. That came on a night when the bullpen was thin. “I really didn’t want to use Mo tonight,” Girardi said. “He just kept getting out after out after out. I had Boone ready to go if a couple guys get on, but he was dynamite.”
• Kelley’s previous career-high was four strikeouts in a game, something he’d done twice. “I definitely wasn’t trying to,” Kelley said. “But I was executing my pitches tonight and I was able to get ahead. When you’re 1-2, 0-2, you can get a little more picky with your location and go with it. I was getting ahead with my fastball, and that was allowing me to use my slider a little later in counts.”
• Tonight was Joe Girardi’s 500th win as Yankees manager. He’s the seventh manager to reach the number (Stengel, McCarthy, Torre, Huggins, Martin, Houk). “I’ve been blessed to have this opportunity,” Girardi said. “Mr. Steinbrenner and Cash trusted me and put me in this position and I’m fortunate. As a child, you dream about playing in the big-leagues. I don’t know if you dream about managing, but as I got older, it was something I really wanted to do. I got a great opportunity.”
• Girardi on the sign: “The guys put a little effort into that sign. It had paint and tape and a little bit of everything. We even had to hold him in here a little bit while they put it up. My idea was one of those, sometimes parents have those things that keep kids from walking away. I wanted to give it to one of our guys in the outfield so he couldn’t run away.”
• Overbay said his big night is part of simply feeling better after a slight mechanical adjustment (and a geographical shift). “Those first couple of games (in Colorado) I don’t think I was getting my foot down early enough, and I kind of worked on that today and yesterday too,” he said. “That was big. It’s kind of nice to have new scenery, because I’m terrible in Colorado.”
• We’ll actually give the final word to Hughes: “It seems like we’re clicking in the right areas. You know, when we get good pitching, we score a few runs, just enough. And on days like this, where we don’t pitch as well, we score a bunch of runs. I think we’re just clicking right now, and guys are finding a way.”
Associated Press photo