Bronx Bombers are back
Welcome back, Bronx Bombers!
The long ball returned to Yankee Stadium Saturday on a sunny, breezy afternoon. The Yankees launched five home runs, nearly matching their season total prior to the game, in a 7-4 victory over the Red Sox. Four of the blows came off Boston starter John Lackey, who had allowed only one home run previously in 13 innings of his first two starts when he was 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA. That ERA took a hit Saturday in jumping to 3.86.
As recently as two years ago, the Yankee set a club record in home runs with 245. This year has been a different story. They did not hit a home run in 2014 until the season’s sixth game. Entering play Saturday, the Yanks’ home run total was seven through 11 games, which put them on pace for a measly 103 over the 162-game schedule. In one game, they increased that season pace to 162.
It was good to see Brian McCann break out of an early-season slump. The catcher clouted two home runs, a solo shot in the fourth inning and a two-run blast in the sixth. They were the first extra-base hits this season for McCann, who went into the game batting .162.
“Every day he has come to the park with a smile on his face, but I am sure he was storing up some emotions, although he never went over the top,” manager Joe Girardi said. “When you come to a new place, you want to get off to a fast start and show why the club signed you in the first place.”
McCann had already drawn rave reviews for his handling of the pitching staff, a quality that marked his success in Atlanta. That is one element of the catcher’s role on a team. He works so closely with the pitchers that taking batting practice is often the last thing on his mind.
“I stayed the course,” McCann said. “I’ve tried to stay positive. That first home run felt pretty good. Absolutely.”
Carlos Beltran started the home run derby with a two-run rocket to right field in the first inning. Alfonso Soriano, making his first career start in right field, followed McCann’s fourth-inning jack with a solo tater of his own to take the club lead at three. Kelly Johnson tied Soriano with his third home run of the season in the eighth off Burke Badenhop.
It was McCann’s 10th career multi-homer game and first since May 28 last year at Toronto. His and Soriano’s back-to-back showing was the first for the Yankees since June 6 last year by Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira at Seattle.
Soriano’s only previous appearance in right field was in Game 5 of the 2003 World Series for the Yankees at Miami when he played one inning. Girardi thought he would give Sori a break from the tough sun field in left at the Stadium. Soriano made an error in the sixth when he dropped a fly ball Xander Bogaerts, but it caused no damaging effect other than embarrassment.
Hiroki Kuroda (2-1) benefit from the homer onslaught to notch the winning decision. He was touched for a two-run homer in the second by A.J. Pierzynski. Kuroda came out in the seventh after walking two batters, both of whom later scored, but Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley (second save) did a strong job in relief.