Game 4: Yanks 10 Royals 4
KANSAS CITY — Phil Hughes brought more than just an extra-zippy fastball with him as he returned to the mound for the seventh inning on Sunday. He seemed to be carrying a few extra ounces of his manager’s trust.
Hughes’ strong effort earned him a chance to head back out and wrap up an impressive day of work in which he made a big lead stand up for a 10-4 win over the Royals that figures to keep him in the Yankees’ starting rotation.
“If I continue to pitch well and throw well, I’m sure I’ll gain more trust,” Hughes said. “That’s what it’s all about — having the manager know that you can get out of those jams and know that you can still have a lot left in the tank after 100 pitches.”
The Yankees provided Hughes with plenty of support as they earned a split of the four-game series at Kauffman Stadium. Robinson Cano’s eighth career grand slam highlighted a six-run third inning, with Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez also homering for New York.
“We talked about it yesterday; you can only tip your cap so many times,” Rodriguez said. “At the end of the day, we have to do the job. Yesterday wasn’t so good. Today was much better.”
Hughes owned a 7-1 lead by the third inning, cruising through his best outing of the year. He went a season-high 6 2/3 innings, coming within two of his career max with 115 pitches as he held Kansas City to three runs and six hits.
“I thought he located his fastball,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I thought he had a good changeup today that was effective, and he used his other pitches as well. He used some cutters, and he used some curveballs. We needed a win to finish the road trip.”
And Hughes may have needed one for other reasons. As the right-hander worked against Kansas City, walking one and striking out seven, Andy Pettitte was declaring himself ready to join the big league club after his most recent Minor League rehab start.
It has been suggested that Hughes could bounce to the bullpen to clear space for Pettitte, especially in the wake of Mariano Rivera’s season-ending right knee injury, but Sunday’s deep effort suggests that Hughes may stay.
“When you kind of have that long leash, it makes you feel like you can be that workhorse-type guy and go out there and have the trust of the manager and give us some length when we need it,” Hughes said.
Girardi said that he will, as of now, keep his rotation on turn. The manager expects to discuss Pettitte’s situation with general manager Brian Cashman, but there is justification for keeping Hughes in the rotation.
“I think the reason his name has been brought up so much is because of what he’s done in the past [in the bullpen], and with the injury to Mo,” Girardi said. “But this is also a guy who won  games in the rotation, so he’s done some good things in both places.”
Billy Butler knocked a run-scoring double in the first inning before Hughes settled in. Alex Gordon’s fifth-inning RBI single and Humberto Quintero’s solo homer in the seventh accounted for the other runs before three New York relievers finished up.
“It wasn’t a mistake-free outing, but with the run support, it was positive,” Hughes said.
Royals starter Luke Hochevar certainly would have traded places, having been chased in the third inning and hearing boos from the home crowd as he exited…...Read More
Box Score and Highlights:
The Yankees need more contributions like this from Cano and Arod in order to make the playoffs. With the suspect starting pitching we have, it is imperative for the Yankee offense to jump to considerable leads in the early innings. At least three to four run innings would be appropriate enough and would take the pressure off the starters. Holding the lead to after the the 6th inning would be more possible and the Yankee bullpen could take it from there. And still, it will not be easy because of the improvements the American league has made since last year. Let’s go Yankees!!
AL East Standings going into Monday 5/7/2012:
Game Three: Royals 5 Yanks 1
KANSAS CITY — What a season debut it was for Felipe Paulino.
The Royals right-hander was astounding in his return from the disabled list on Saturday, shutting down the powerful New York Yankees lineup and leading the Royals to a 5-1 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
Paulino threw six shutout innings, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out six. He retired the first 11 batters he faced before walking Alex Rodriguez with two outs in the fourth inning, and the Yankees didn’t pick up their first hit until Raul Ibanez singled in the fifth.
“I feel really strong and confident in myself,” Paulino said. “That’s the big key in this sport, baseball — be confident all the time when you throw your pitches and try to attack the hitter.”
Paulino did just that, rarely getting into any sort of trouble during his six innings. His only jam came in the fifth inning. Ibanez and Russell Martin hit back-to-back one-out singles, and Eduardo Nunez walked with two outs. Paulino escaped the bases-loaded threat by getting Derek Jeter to ground out to shortstop Alcides Escobar.
After allowing a leadoff double to Curtis Granderson to start the sixth, Paulino picked up some defensive help from Jeff Francoeur. The Royals right fielder caught a fly ball off the bat of Rodriguez and threw out Granderson, who had tagged from second, at third base for his fifth outfield assist of the year. Francoeur also made a sliding catch in right field two batters later to end the inning.
“I really love that when I’ve got the defense behind me,” Paulino said. “You feel more confident in your pitch, all your pitches. I’m the guy that’s not afraid to give up contact, and he made a nice play behind me. That was a very exciting moment.”
Francoeur acknowledged the importance of his play.
“I’ve seen the kind of speed that Granderson has got, and to keep [the score] at 3-0, it gave us some more breathing room,” Francoeur said. “And for us to come back and put up two runs the next inning was huge.”
The Royals opened the scoring in the first inning. Jarrod Dyson reached on an error by Jeter, and Alex Gordon ripped a single into right field off Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda. Dyson went to third on the base hit, and Gordon later advanced to second on a wild pitch. Both runners scored easily on a double smoked down the left-field line off the bat of Billy Butler, giving the Royals an early 2-0 lead.
Butler added another RBI in the fifth, doubling in Gordon, who had four hits on the night, to bump the Kansas City lead to 3-0. The Royals tacked on two more runs in the next inning on a Dyson sacrifice fly and a Gordon RBI double…..Read More
Box Score and Highlights: