Alfonso Soriano was hitless. Alex Rodriguez struck out three times. Mark Reynolds took an 0-for-3. It’s easy to look at tonight’s doubleheader finale and say it was won by the guys who have been here all season. It was, after all, Phil Hughes who pitched well and Jayson Nix who came up with the big hits. Come to think of it, the first game was a win because Ivan Nova pitched well, and Robinson Cano and Chris Stewart — more of the familiar crowd — came up with big home runs.
“I think in the first game, we saw the home run Robbie hits,” Nix said. “They had a base open right there. All season he’s been getting pitched around, but he’s got some protection to get some pitches to hit there. It’s a huge home run. Yeah, I think it makes everybody better, definitely.”
The Yankees are better. That’s the takeaway from today’s doubleheader sweep, from the current four-game winning streak, and from the fact they’ve won eight of 10.
“You guys can feel it,” Austin Romine said. “When you come in here it’s loose; it’s fun. We’re not out of it until we’re out of it, and that’s every game. We’re scrapping. We’re getting big hits from guys when we need it. Case in point tonight with Nixy coming up huge with that line drive to left. It’s fun. We’re having fun.”
The lineup is deeper, and given some run support, some of the pressure has lifted from the pitching staff. Nova struggled early, settled in, and the Yankees were able to come back. Hughes delivered his best start in more than a month and the Yankees didn’t waste it.
“We’re a different team offensively than what we’ve been,” Joe Girardi said. “For those guys to come up big, it’s good to see because you can’t rely on the other guys all the time. You think about Romine, he had three hits tonight, as well. On a night where we didn’t get too many hits, we made them count. … It’s a good day.”
• Although he warmed up briefly tonight, Adam Warren will make the start tomorrow. Girardi initially said Warren wouldn’t be the guy — sounded like either David Huff or Andy Pettitte would get the ball — but Girardi came into the clubhouse postgame to announce that Warren will make his first start of the year. He made one spot start last year.
• Nothing huge on Derek Jeter except to say he played the simulated game as expected and ran the bases after putting the ball in play. Everything went fine and he’ll do a workout tomorrow before taking the next step, whatever that is. Girardi wouldn’t get into specifics except to say there’s no sim game tomorrow, only a workout with more running.
• Huge moment tonight with Ichiro Suzuki pinch running and stealing third base. “I went in as a pinch runner, and I thought I need to do something today,” Ichiro said. “This is my chance to do something. I had a good opportunity to do that.” It helped set up the game-winner.
• How did Ichiro’s steal change that final at-bat? “It changes a lot,” Nix said. “It makes my job a lot easier. I really wasn’t trying to change my thinking too much once he did. Obviously I know I’ve just got to hit a fly ball but with the infield in I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit over the middle and not trying to do too much. It makes my job a lot easier when he takes that bag. It’s huge.”
• This was Nix’s first career walk-off hit. … Romine had his second three-hit game in less than a month. Before that he’d never had one in the big leagues. … Cano moved ahead of Tommy Henrich for sole possession of 17th place on the Yankees all-time RBI list with 796.
• This was the second consecutive encouraging start for Hughes who did not allow a home run at Yankee Stadium for the first time since June 19 snapping a stretch of six home starts with at least one homer. “Extremely better than I have been,” Hughes said. “I feel like I’m making progress in the right direction. … It all starts with my fastball. I was able to get ahead a lot, throw a lot of strikes and force guys to swing the bats. It worked out alright.”
• The slider was big for Hughes tonight, but he said it was lack of execution on a pair of them that led to the triple and the wild pitch. He also seemed to be throwing a lot of effective changeups early. “It was something we had discussed maybe just incorporating that pitch just to give guys another look,” Hughes said. “It’s really something I wanted to do, and make sure I threw it down in the zone and maybe get some quick outs with it.”
• Girardi’s take on Hughes: “I thought his fastball was down better today. I thought his slider was pretty good. I think of some of the hits he gave up, they weren’t hit too hard. I thought he stayed off the barrel of the bat for the most part tonight.”
• This was the Yankees sixth walk-off win of the year, their most in a season since 2009 when they had an absurd number with 15. … The Yankees have won eight in a row against Toronto. … They have won 22 one-run games this season, matching their total from 2012.
• The Yankees have split or won each of their past 19 doubleheaders. According to Elias, that’s the longest such streak in the Majors and the longest for the Yankees since playing 30 consecutive doubleheaders without being swept from June 21, 1996 to September 16, 2006.
• Alex Rodriguez was mostly cheered before every at-bat today, especially before his first at-bat of each game. But at the end of second of his Game 2 at-bats, he was booed as he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a crushing double play. “Just a bad day,” Girardi said. “I wasn’t sure what we would get the second game, in a sense. It’s the first time he probably had to play two times in the same day.”
• Rodriguez didn’t speak today, so he didn’t address the Ryan Dempster suspension or any of the many story lines that developed yesterday. As far as I know, he did not file suit against anyone today, so it was a pretty slow day on that front.
• From the AP, here’s Dempster on accepting his suspension without appeal: “I thought about appealing. At the end of the day, I think Major League Baseball does a really good job of thinking through punishments before they hand them out. I thought it was in the best interest of us as a team to go ahead and serve my suspension.”
• Final word goes to Nix: “I think we talked about it a few weeks ago. We’re in the playoffs now. We need to win all these games and come to the field every day to win the game. I think we’re kind of creeping a little bit but we’ve got a long way to go, we’ve got a lot of games. I think each game is very important and we know that.”
Associated Press photos