Former Yank Dickerson hurts old club
The streak of the Yankees winning games in which they score first came to an end Tuesday night because the Orioles scored last. Nate McLouth’s home run off a 1-1 pitch from Vidal Nuno, the Yankees’ sixth pitcher of the game, was the difference in a 3-2, 10-inning decision. The Yanks had been 19-0 in games when they got on the scoreboard first, which they did again Tuesday night but this time they couldn’t pull it off.
For the second straight night, a Yankees starting pitcher gave up two leads. Monday night it was CC Sabathia in a game the Yanks won also in 10 innings. Tuesday night it was Phil Hughes, once again haunted by the long ball. The culprit was former teammate Chris Dickerson, who touched Hughes for solo blasts in the third inning (climaxing a 10-pitch at-bat) that made the score 1-1 and in the fifth that made it 2-2.
Dickerson hit only three home runs in 64 at-bats for the Yankees in short stretches with the club in 2011 and 2012. He played center field Tuesday night to give Adam Jones a half-night off as the designated hitter and had a 3-for-4 game to raise his 2013 batting average to .371 with three homers and eight RBI.
If not for Dickerson, it would have been a splendid start for Hughes, who was coming off an embarrassing, two-thirds of an inning outing last week against Seattle at Yankee Stadium in which he was clocked for seven earned runs and six hits. The righthander rebounded with a solid, six-inning effort in which he yielded five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Hughes could not get Dickerson out, which cost him. Phil has given up 10 home runs in 47 1/3 innings.
Travis Hafner drove in both runs for the Yankees with singles that scored teammates who had led off innings with doubles, Brett Gardner in the first and Vernon Wells in the fourth. Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez proved nearly untouchable after Hafner’s second run-scoring hit as the righthander retired 11 straight batters until David Adams singled with two down in the seventh. Nick Markakis’ diving catch of a liner to right-center by Jayson Nix ended the inning.
Adams was the Yankees’ only base runner after the fourth inning as the Orioles set down 21 of the Yankees’ last 22 batters. Tommy Hunter pitched two scoreless innings for Baltimore, and Jim Johnson added a shutout 10th. Johnson, who had blown his three previous save opportunities, including Monday night, ended up the winning pitcher.
The Yanks’ bullpen was strong, too. Boone Logan, Shawn Kelley, David Robertson and Preston Claiborne followed Hughes with three scoreless innings combined to stretch the pen’s shutout streak on the road to 29 2/3 innings over the past 11 away games, which ended in the 10th. Robertson was particularly impressive by striking out the side in the eighth.
Nuno, the lefthander who won his first major-league start eight days earlier, was recalled from Triple A Scranton to sub for the disabled Andy Pettitte in the rotation, lost his scheduled start to Sunday’s rainout and was plenty fresh to come out of the bullpen. He probably still is. After all, he threw merely three pitches.