Yanks end bumpy trip on high note

Every game is important. Managers say that all the time. But it is also true that some games are more important than others. Managers convey that by how they handle their personnel. Sunday was a very important game for the Yankees, and it showed as Joe Girardi pulled out all stops to get them a victory to end a potentially disastrous trip on a high note.

A 2-4 trip does not sound good, but it is acceptable when the team starts out 0-3 as the Yankees did in getting swept at Chicago. Cleveland was a different story, but taking two of three from the Indians wasn’t all that easy for the Yankees, who scored only eight runs in the series with each games decided by two runs.

For the second straight start, Freddy Garcia pitched four solid innings only to come apart in the fifth. It was not as grim as his previous start against the White Sox when after getting the first out of the fifth Garcia gave up single, home run, single, walk and walk to the next five batters, all of whom scored.

Pitching with a 3-0 lead entering the fifth, Garcia got the first two batters out without incident. It was a fluke hit that sort of unglued Freddy as Jason Kipnis, who had three hits and stole three bases, got a double on a ground ball that struck the bag at first base and bounded down the right field line.

Garcia never got that third out to complete the inning and be in position for a winning decision. He hit Asdrubal Cabrera with a pitch and then walked Shin-Soo Choo to load the bases. Carlos Santana sealed Freddy’s fate with a two-run single, and Girard did not hesitate to make a move. Thanks to Hiroki Kuroda’s compete game Saturday night and seven-plus inning starts from CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes before that, the Yankees’ bullpen was thoroughly rested.

Boone Logan was summoned to get the third out Garcia could not and earned his fifth victory in seven decisions with 1 2/3 innings of shutout relief. David Robertson kept the ball rolling with 1 1/3 scoreless innings, but Girardi called on Rafael Soriano to get a four-out save, his third of the season among his 33 total, another indication of how much the skipper wanted to nail this game down.

Soriano took a blow on the right hand from a line drive by Kipnis but remained in the game to do what Girardi expected of him. After pitching to a 6.75 ERA in 6 2/3 innings at Chicago, the pen pitched to a 0.00 ERA in six innings at Cleveland.

With Tampa Bay off because the Republican convention is in town and Baltimore postponed by rain, the Yankees picked up a half-game in the American League East standings and now lead the Rays by 4 games and the Orioles by 4 ½. Despite their losing record on the trip, the Yankees lost only one game in the standings over a week’s time.

After a night when their offense fizzled in failing to support Kuroda, the Yankees put together a sustained rally for three runs in the second inning against righthander Ubaldo Jimenez. A single by Eric Chavez and a walk to Raul Ibanez preceded a run-scoring single by Ichiro Suzuki, who had a quiet trip. Chris Stewart’s sacrifice help set up the next two runs on an infield out by Derek Jeter, who took a rare 0-for-5, and a two-out, RBI single by Nick Swisher, who kept up his hot hitting on the trip with a .429 batting average in 21 at-bats with two doubles, one home run, four RBI, four runs and five walks.

With three left-handed batters due up in the sixth for the Yanks, Indians manager Manny Acta brought in lefthander Tony Sipp, a move that backfired when Curtis Granderson led off with his 33rd home run of the season and 200th of his career. He became the eighth player on the Yankees’ roster with 200 or more homers, a major league record. Granderson joined Ibanez, Jeter, Chavez, Swisher, Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones and Mark Teixeira.

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