Before the Tigers came to town, the Yanks had been scuffling through August, and even after Monday’s tough loss, the Bombers’ fearsome offense had managed just one run over its previous 18 innings. Bad pitching though is the cure for what ails you, and powered by a Derek Jeter triple and a Robinson Cano home run, the Yanks sent 13 hitters to the plate in the sixth inning en route to an 11-5 blowout win. Over their last three games, the team has scored 26 runs or as many as they had plated in their eight prior contests.
Phil’s early troubles and late domination
The tale of Thursday afternoon will be about the offense, but Phil Hughes’ pitching is what stole the show. He didn’t open the game sharp as Will Rhymes knocked a one-out hit, and Miguel Cabrera bombed a 3-2 hanging curve ball into the Yanks’ bullpen. It took him 24 pitches to get through the top of the first, and with the sun pounding down on the stadium, it seemed as though Hughes would not be long for the game. A 20-pitch second inning didn’t help the cause.
But Hughes found his rhythm and his command. After the first nine hitters knocked out seven foul balls with two strikes and after the Tigers had a good look at the Yanks’ youngster, Hughes settled down. He needed just seven pitches to dispatch the top of the Detroit order in the third, 14 in the fourth, 11 in the fifth and just eight in his sixth and final frame. He threw 61 of 84 pitches for strikes with six Ks en route to his 15th win of the year. It was a very solid start for Hughes.
The right-hander’s innings limit came into play this afternoon too. Once the Yankees scored nine runs in the 6th, it seemed a fait accompli that Hughes would see no more action. The score stood at 11-2, and the Yanks had spent 34 minutes at the plate. So Hughes, on a roll through six, would see no more action, and his innings would be saved for another day. It was an obvious and wise decision by the Yanks.
So many runs in the sixth
As a spectator, innings such as the sixth are a sheer pleasure to watch. Throughout the first third of the game, the Yanks’ bat had been dreadfully silent. Rick Porcello needed just 43 pitches to get through the first three innings, and the Yanks didn’t knock out a hit until Mark Teixera singled in the fourth. Three more hits that inning plated two runs for the Yanks, and with the score knotted at two, Teixeira came to bat to start the sixth. The merry-go-round would not stop for 13 batters.
Walk, double, walk, single, walk, wild pitch, double, ground-out, walk, triple, ground out, home run, walk, ground out. 34 minutes, 13 batters, nine runs, six hits. It was a thing of beauty, capped by an Austin Kearns double, Derek Jeter’s triple off the wall and a towering Robinson Cano home run into Monument Park, his second extra-base hit of the inning.
The Tigers needed four pitchers to get through that mess, each worse than the last, and for the Yankees, it seemed as though the great offensive dam had broken. After nearly a week or just a hit or two with runners in scoring position, the team went 6 for 10 in those situations, and the early August slump seemed to be but a memory. For the Yanks, only Brett Gardner and Ramiro Pena did not get base hits.
A save to end all saves
With the score at 11-2 and Phil Hughes in showers, the Yanks handed the ball over to the only reliever who didn’t appear in Wednesday’s game. By hook or by crook, Sergio Mitre would finish up the final three innings of an 11-2 game and finish it he did. I will charitably say that Mitre pitched to the score.
He started his appearance out on a high end, striking out Johnny Damon. Jhonny Peralta, though, took Mitre deep, and while the crowd groaned, I appreciated Mitre’s willingness to throw strikes. After a single and a double though, Sergio needed to do something. Dan Kelly struck out, and then Austin Jackson knocked in a run. After a mound visit from Dave Eiland, Mitre got Will Rhymes to fly-out to end the 7th.
The Tigers plated a run in the top of the 8th to pull with six, but by then, the regulars had long since departed. Miguel Cabrera, Yankee killer, was off for the rest of the day, and a variety of other Tigers popped in for a cameo. Mitre settled down and induced two double plays over the final two frames. It was, as the stadium scoreboard proudly, broadcast his first career save and the Yanks’ 75th win of the season.
The Box Score
The Cliff Lee-less Mariners come to town, but they’re coming out with guns blazing tonight. Felix Hernandez, 1-5 but with a minuscule 1.93 ERA since the Infamous Joba Meltdown in Seattle, will face off against A.J. Burnett at 7:05 p.m. King Felix’s last start in New York was a dominant one.