After rain delay, Yankees rain down hits and runs

It was Phil Hughes’ misfortune to have to come out of Monday’s game at Yankee Stadium due to a 1-hour, 53-minute rain delay. That was the only misfortune suffered by the Yankees. They got a head start on making up for being swept by the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field last month by trouncing Chicago, 9-1, in the opener of a three-game series.

One day after losing to the Orioles because of Baltimore’s seven-run seventh inning, the Yanks constructed an eight-run fourth inning. The beneficiary instead of Hughes was David Huff, the lefthander who has pitched so well in relief since his Aug. 15 call-up from Triple A Scranton.

Hughes, who is winless in 10 starts since July 2, would have loved all that run support against his 4-13 record. What starter wouldn’t? For a career middle-innings reliever such as Huff, the eight-run bulge felt just as satisfying. Hughes was actually on the winning side of the ledger at the time the game was stopped with one out in the Chicago second and the Yankees leading, 1-0. Because of the duration of the delay, Hughes did not return to the mound with his teammates.

White Sox reliever Dylan Axelrod was not as lucky as Huff. The Yankees sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth in scoring eight runs (six earned), all charged to his record, although he was removed after the 10th batter. Robinson Cano was the only Yankees batter that inning who did not reach base. Cano had his hand in the victory with a couple of dazzling, back-to-the-infield grabs, one of which resulted in a double play.

The Yanks’ rally was aided by two White Sox errors and two walks but was fueled primarily by seven hits – doubles by Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano and singles by Vernon Wells, Mark Reynolds, Austin Romine and Derek Jeter. In essence, it was a team effort. The Yanks scored as many runs that inning as they did in the three games combined in Chicago last month.

Huff, who is in his second tour with the Yankees this season, had a 14 1/3-inning scoreless streak ended when he gave up Paul Konerko’s 10th home run with one out in the seventh. Huff, 29, is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings since his return Aug. 16 that has lowered his season ERA from 13.50 to 3.32.

The Yankees picked up Huff back in May off waivers from the Indians. After a four-game stint with the Yanks that month, Huff ended up being outrighted to Scranton where he was 1-6 despite a 3.84 ERA. He has pitched so well the past two weeks that Huff might even be considered for a start down the line.

It was also good to see Jeter run with authority when the Yankees scored their first run, off White Sox starter Jose Quintana. For the third consecutive game, Gardner led off with a double. He scored on a ground single between shortstop and third base by Jeter, who alertly took second when left fielder Alejandro De Aza bobbled the ball. DJ also crossed to third on Cano’s flyout to right field but was stranded there.

Jeter’s hit in the fourth inning was career No. 3,313, which tied him with Eddie Collins for ninth place on the all-time list and is six behind another Hall of Famer at No. 8, Paul Molitor.

The big lead allowed manager Joe Girardi to get some new people into the game. Pitcher Cesar Cabral and catcher J.R. Murphy made their major-league debuts. Cabral pitched a shutout inning of relief and Murphy, pinch hitting for Cano in the eighth, beat out an infield single for his first big-league hit.

Their appearances brought the total of players used by the Yankees this season to 52, a franchise record.

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