Bottom of order plus Cano a nice combo
On the same night that Alex Rodriguez began his injury-rehabilitation assignment with a three-inning stint at Charleston, S.C., the Yankees finally ended a slump by their third basemen that had lasted for a week and a half. The weak hitting of Yankees third baseman of late amplified the season-long loss of A-Rod, who is recovering from off-season left hip surgery.
When David Adams singled to center field in the fifth inning, it stopped a hitless string of 32 at-bats by Yankees third baseman over the past 11 games. The hit helped fuel a three-run rally as the Yankees came back from a 1-0 deficit to take a 3-1 lead on the way to a 7-3 victory over the Twins. Adams had gotten the previous hit for a Yankees third baseman, an infield single in the fourth inning June 21 against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.
The way Samuel Deduno was pitching on his 30th birthday in the early innings it appeared that more than just third basemen for the Yankees might have a night of 0-fers. The Yanks went out in order in each of the first three innings with all nine outs coming on infield grounders. Robinson Cano continued his torrid trip with the Yankees’ first hit, a one-out single in the fourth following a walk to Ichiro Suzuki but the Bombers couldn’t capitalize on it.
The bottom of the fourth may have been the turning point of the game. Phil Hughes gave up a leadoff walk to Trevor Plouffe and a double to rookie Oswaldo Arcia. Second and third, none out, and Hughes went to work. The Yankees played the infield back, conceding a run if a Twins hitter made contact. Hughes had other ideas. He struck out Chris Parmelee on an inside fastball, punched out Aaron Hicks on three straight curves and retired Pedro Florimon on a weak ground ball to shortstop.
The Yankees rewarded Hughes with that three-run fifth. Adams’ single came one out after Lyle Overbay led off with an infield hit. Alberto Gonzalez, playing shortstop Tuesday night but also part of that long 0-fer by Yankees third sackers, doubled to right field to give Hughes the lead. After Gonzalez took third on a chop to the mound by Brett Gardner, Suzuki was credited with a single on a roller along the first-base line mishandled by Deduno for another run.
Just as they did Monday night, the Yankees pounded Minnesota’s bullpen for late-inning runs. Adams with a double and Gonzalez with a single combined for another run in the seventh off reliever Anthony Swarzak, who later gave up a single to Ichiro and a three-run homer to the red-hot Cano.
The All-Star second baseman seems to be warming up for the Home Run Derby the night before the All-Star Game July 16 at Citi Field. On this trip alone, Cano has four homers in five games. The seventh-inning bomb was Cano’s 20th home run this season, the fifth straight year he has hit at least that many. The only American League second baseman with more 20-homer seasons was Hall of Famer Joe Gordon with seven. Gordon spent seven of his 11 seasons in the majors with the Yankees and was the AL Most Valuable Player with them in 1942.
Cano has 12-for-21 (.571) on the trip with five straight multi-hit games, eight runs and eight RBI. Since leaving New York after last Thursday’s game, Cano has raised his season batting average from .276 to .295. He is far and away the Yankees’ RBI leader with 54.
Hughes, who pitched well in his previous start that same Thursday against the Rangers but was victimized by Derek Holland’s two-hit shutout, ended a personal three-game losing streak. His assertiveness in the fourth inning was the centerpiece of his seven-inning outing in which he gave up one run, six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
Cano’s home run loomed large when the Twins rallied for two runs in the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate. Back when the score was 7-1 it did not look as if Mariano Rivera would even have to warm up, but he got himself ready and recorded the final out for his 27th save.
Down in Charleston, A-Rod grounded into a double play and was called out on strikes in his two at-bats. He will likely be sore today, but it is a beginning.