They don't call 'em the Bronx Bombers for nothing.
Andy Pettitte went six adequate innings, Johnny Damon broke a 3-3 tie with a solo home run in the sixth and the trio of Phil Hughes, Phil Coke and Mariano Rivera worked three scoreless innings as the Yanks trimmed the Rays 5-3
in the Bronx. Mark Teixeira ripped his 18th round-tripper of the season in the first inning to give the Bombers a quick 1-0 advantage and Nick Swisher pushed the lead to 3-0 with a two-run jack in the second. Derek Jeter capped the scoring with a homer in the eighth to help the Yankees take two of three against Tampa this weekend and move one game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
The Bombers looked poised to coast to an easy victory early on in this one, but the Rays tied things up with a three-spot in the fourth inning thanks in large part to Gabe Kapler's two-run long ball. But in the end it was too much pinstriped power. The Yankees managed just six hits Monday night, but four of them left the ballpark.
Sometimes you have to flex your muscles -- just to show the other team who's boss.The Good:
Johnny Damon. There's been a lot of complaining about the way the ball jumps out of Yankee Stadium (especially to right field), but one guy who won't be bad-mouthing the new ballpark anytime soon is Damon. JD pulled an Andy Sonnanstine pitch over the right-field wall in the sixth inning for his 12th homer of the year and ninth at The Stadium. And Damon didn't think he got enough of the pitch after he swung. In fact, he put his head down and did a quick little shake of the head as if to say "Dang, didn't get enough of it." I guess Johnny D forgot where he was playing for a minute. Damon finished 1 for 4 with a run scored and 1 RBI.
Nick Swisher. The dial is definitely turned to hot for Swisher. The switch-hitter ripped his second home run in as many games (Nick-Knock! A Swisher Sweet!) and pushed his average for the month of June to a cool .500 (9 for 18). It was Swisher's 12th blast of the season. But before you point to the homer-friendly ballpark, nine of Swisher's home runs have come on the road this season. Just another example of Swisher's schizophrenic tendencies. Swisher finished 2 for 3 with a run scored and 2 RBIs.
Phil Hughes. This could be the start of something. Hughes relieved Pettitte in the seventh inning and looked terrific. The hard-throwing righty came in throwing gas and retired the Rays in order on just 11 pitches, capping it off by striking out the dangerous Evan Longoria to end the frame. Why didn't Joe Girardi send Hughes out for the eighth? Fair question. I guess he wanted to pull the kid after a good outing to boost his confidence. I was wary of putting Hughes in the bullpen at first since he'll probably be needed in the starting rotation again at some point during the season, but if the Yanks can give him regular work and he pitches like he did Monday night -- well, then things should be just fine. Hughes' night: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.The Bad:
Hideki Matsui. Looks like Godzilla is hitting another bad stretch. Matsui and Swisher are neck-and neck when it comes to streakiness and right now Matsui is scrapping. The Sayonara Kid is 0 for his past 16 and is hitting just .105 so far in June. But it wasn't all bad as Matsui managed to work out a walk Monday night. Baby steps. Matsui finished 0 for 2 with a base on balls.The Ugly:
Six in a row. The Yankees either don't read what I write (no, that can't be true) or they simply chose to ignore when I pointed out Sunday that they have committed an error in five straight games. Heed my words! I'm here to help! It was Alex Rodriguez's turn as the E-man Monday night as he booted a ground ball in the fourth inning for his third error of the season. And that mistake came around to score. Tighten things up, fellas.
The Yankees will hit the road and begin a three-game set against the Red
Sox at Fenway Park beginning Tuesday night. A.J. Burnett (4-2, 4.69
ERA) will go against Josh Beckett (6-2, 4.09 ERA) in the opener.
Burnett has won his past two starts and has allowed just three runs in
13 innings over that span. Dustin Pedroia is a career .300 hitter
against Burnett (6 for 20) with six walks, two homers and four runs
batted in. A.J. is 5-0 with a 3.52 ERA in nine career starts against
the BoSox, and is 3-0 with a 2.93 ERA in four lifetime starts in
Boston. Beckett defeated the Detroit Tigers his last time out,
allowing three runs on eight hits over seven innings in a 10-5 Red Sox
victory. The hard-throwing right-hander is 4-0 in his past six starts
and hasn't lost since April 30 at Tampa Bay. The Bombers have hit
Beckett well in the past, though. Eight Yankees have a career average of .300
or better against Beckett: Derek Jeter (.341), Johnny Damon (.316),
Robinson Cano (.333), Alex Rodriguez (.324), Melky Cabrera (.364),
Jorge Posada (.346), Nick Swisher (.357) and Angel Berroa (.375).
Burnett and Beckett faced off April 25 at Fenway, but both came away with a no-decision in a 16-11 Red Sox win.
The Yanks will enter Tuesday's game with an 0-5 record this season against the Red Sox.
Time to crack the win column.