Yanks’ legs plenty strong in this victory

Speed has not been that much an element to the Yankees’ offense this year. It was thought that they would suffer a power outage this season with the loss of several sluggers, but the Yankees continue to lead the American League in home runs with 36, the most recent coming on Lyle Overbay’s solo shot in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s 7-4 victory over the Astros.

The Yankees’ other runs were due more to their legs than their brawn, which was good to see. They entered the game with nine stolen bases, the second lowest total in the league. They used thefts to help manufacture the first two runs. Travis Hafner got two of his three RBI because of the steals by Brett Gardner in the first inning and Ichiro Suzuki in the third.

Houston starter Philip Humber also helped the Yankees move around the bases by throwing four wild pitches in his six innings. Two came in the fifth inning in which the Yankees scored twice with only one ball reaching the outfield. Suzuki and Jayson Nix beat out infield hits, and a dash to first base by Brennan Boesch averted a double play and resulted in a run as well.

Eduardo Nunez ran from out of his helmet as usual to turn two of his three hits into doubles, the second of which led to a run in the three-run eighth on a single by Chris Stewart. They seemed like pad-on runs at the time, but the Astros rallied in the ninth against Shawn Kelley that prompted manager Joe Girardi to summon Mariano Rivera, who restored order with a strikeout and earned his 10th save.

Hafner and Suzuki also had three hits in the Yankees’ 15-hit assault. Humber’s record fell to 0-6. He is 4-11 since pitching that perfect game April 21 last year for the White Sox at Seattle.

Hiroki Kuroda overcame a shaky first three innings to pitch a four-hit shutout through seven innings. The Astros were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position over those first three innings and stranded seven base runners. Kuroda found himself after that and pitched to the minimum number of batters through the seventh and is now 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA.

The Astros didn’t score until Chris Carter hit a two-run home run off David Robertson in the eighth. They got two more runs off Kelley in the ninth before Rivera put the finishing touch on a surprisingly strong April for the Yankees, who posted a 16-10 record despite having six regular position players and two-fifths of the rotation on the disabled list during the month.

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