The Yankees have been starved for offense for about three months now, and tonight they scored 14 runs. Alfonso Soriano, the team’s only trade addition, had the go-ahead two-run homer and finished with a career-high six RBI. Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, the guys who have missed most of the year on the disabled list, each contributed with three hits for Granderson and a two-out, two-run double by Rodriguez. Eduardo Nunez matched a career high with four RBI; Vernon Wells had his first homer since mid-May; Lyle Overbay started against a lefty and had three hits.
So as Joe Girardi sat for his postgame press conference, what was he focused on?
“CC,” Girardi said. “I was really pleased with what CC did tonight. But I’ll take 14 runs every night.”
Impossible to dismiss what the Yankees lineup did tonight, but can’t overlook Sabathia’s outing either. Walks were a real problem, and he gave up another home run that put the Yankees in an early hole, but this was his second straight start that brought at least some promising results. And it was his first win since July 3. Three hits were the fewest he’d allowed since May 9.
“He probably should’ve pitched about eight innings with as many outs as he got,” Girardi said. “But we gave him a lot of extra outs. He kept them in check. He gave up the two hits in the first, and he didn’t give up another one until the seventh. … I thought his fastball command was really good. I thought his changeup was pretty good tonight. He didn’t use a ton of sliders but he threw some good ones. But it was his fastball command.”
Sabathia used the term “battle” to describe this one. He’s used that word a lot this season, but tonight it came in a positive context. In some ways, this was a reminder of the way Sabathia used to pitch on his less-than-great nights: Getting big outs when he needed them, and getting past some early trouble to pitch deep in the game.
“Just making a few pitches,” he said. “I got into some tough spots tonight, but was able to make some pitches, get some outs, and that’s the biggest thing. I would get some runners on base earlier in the year and wasn’t able to make pitches, and it was a merry-go-round. Being able to able to hold these guys off and let these guys come back and score runs felt good.”
• This was Alfonso Soriano’s 34th career multi-homer game, and his fourth of the season. It was his first multi-homer game with the Yankees since September 22, 2003 at Chicago. “It felt more like the old days,” Soriano said. “We scored 14 runs today, so I hope we can do that more often. I know it can’t happen every day because the other team gets paid to get us out, but I hope we continue playing like we played tonight.”
• Soriano has now homered three times in three games, beginning with his 2,000th career hit. “I just tried to do too much to get my 2,000,” he said. “Thank God it happened two days ago and now I’m more relaxed. I tried to see the ball better and help this team win. … I just came from the National League, so I don’t know those (pitchers). It’s a little difficult, so I just tried to get comfortable, especially with the guys I’ve never seen before. I saw a lot of video and got something in my mind to make me feel comfortable at the plate.”
• The Yankees have homered in four straight games for the first time since June 3-6. They’ve homered 16 times in their past 14 games after being held without a home run in their previous nine games. … Six Yankees had multi-hit games today, and every Yankees batter had at least one hit.
• Vernon Wells homered for the first time since May 15 against Seattle, snapping a 208 at-bat homerless stretch. Last time he homered, the Yankees were in first place by two games.
• Eduardo Nunez had four RBI, tying a career high previously reached August 28, 2010. This was his first time batting leadoff since September 27, 2011.
• One down side: The Yankees had some real defensive trouble today, most notably struggling with some pop fly plays to the right side. “I wasn’t real happy,” Girardi said. “It’s a tough play but I think our guys are capable of making that play. I’ll just leave it at that.”
• Lyle Overbay talking about the foul popups: “For some reason, the ball was coming back. Even on Vernon’s ball – Trout’s ball – usually when a righty hits it, it slices out a little. For some reason, tonight they were coming back in. That spot right there is a tough spot to catch balls for all of us. For Robbie and Grandy was out there too. Those are spots that (are like) the Bermuda Triangle.”
• Why did Sabathia walk six guys, including one — Chris Nelson! — with the bases loaded? “I felt like I was just missing,” Sabathia said. “I felt pretty good. I didn’t feel tired, I didn’t feel anything. I was just missing with the fastball.”
• Sabathia said he’d never been a part of a play like the one where Nelson was called out for leaving early on a fly ball to left. Ultimately, it didn’t matter once the Yankees blew the game out of reach, but it was still odd. “He was there and he was gone when I looked down, so I thought maybe there was a chance that he had left early,” Jayson Nix said. “Kind of right away, the guys on the bench were yelling at (Austin Romine) to throw it over there. I was about to start. They were yelling at him pretty quick.”
• Dellin Betances made his season debut and struck out the first two batters he faced, then he allowed five straight hits and a walk before being pulled. He wasn’t able to mop up and save the bullpen. “The first time I pitched here I wasn’t able to throw strikes,” he said. “This one, I was even though it was rough because I gave up a string of hits there. Not the way I wanted to end it. I was hoping to finish the game and give the bullpen a rest, but I gave up too many hits, missed with some pitches there. That’s pretty much it. …Just being able to pound the strike zone (was positive), but at the end of the day, you want to get outs.”
• Wells was lifted strictly for the left-on-right matchup. He’s not hurt.
• Final word goes to Girardi: “It does (spark some optimism). We got behind tonight, we were able to come back. We were able to tack on runs and put up 10 runs in three innings. That’s something we haven’t done a whole lot this year, so it is encouraging.”
Associated Press photos