Curtis Granderson hits 200th homer, bullpen comes through in Yankees' 4-2 win
CLEVELAND -- Their starter didn't make it through five innings. Their hitting wasn't all that impressive.
The way this trip started, the Yankees were happy to accept Sunday's 4-2 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field. It allowed them to leave Cleveland with a series win after being swept by the White Sox in their previous series.
Curtis Granderson hit his 33rd homer of the year and 200th of his career in the sixth inning, giving the Yankees a major league-record eight players with at least that many. He joined Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibañez, Derek Jeter, Eric Chavez and Nick Swisher.
And now, holding a four-game lead over the Rays, the Yankees (74-53) settle in for a stretch of 22 straight games against AL East opponents that begins Monday night at the Stadium against the Blue Jays.
"They're big," Jeter, who went 0-for-5 but had an RBI groundout, said of the run of division games. "We play everyone. It doesn't make a difference what's happened up until this point. Everyone that's in this race, we play the entire month of September. We need to play well."
The Yankees didn't do that against Chicago and didn't completely turn the page against the Indians (55-72), who have lost 23 of 28, but a 2-4 record on the trip sounded far better than 1-5.
"We need to turn it around and play better when we get home," Joe Girardi said. "Put together a good homestand and continue to win series. That's the important thing is winning series."
Freddy Garcia escaped a couple of jams during the first four innings and retired the first two batters in the fifth, but after he allowed a two-run single by Carlos Santana to cut the Yankees' lead to 3-2, Girardi went to Boone Logan. Logan (5-2) pitched 12/3 scoreless innings, followed by David Robertson (11/3 innings) and Rafael Soriano, who improved to 33-for-35 in save chances by getting the final four outs.
"You need that. You need guys that can come in and get outs," Jeter said. "We've always had this year a lot of confidence in our bullpen. That's one of the luxuries we've had."
Soriano allowed a leadoff single to Jack Hannahan in the ninth, and after Ezequiel Carrera forced Hannahan at second, Jason Kipnis (three hits, three stolen bases) lined a shot directly at Soriano's head that deflected off his right hand. But Soriano threw him out at first and got Asdrubal Cabrera to hit a soft liner to Teixeira to end it.
Garcia didn't seem thrilled about being pulled after 90 pitches, especially given that Kipnis' double in the fifth deflected off first base and Santana's two-run single was a ground ball. "They made the decision. There's nothing I can do about it," he said. "But we won the game. That's the important thing."
It was a good rebound performance by a bullpen that allowed three home runs after Garcia went only 41/3 innings in his previous outing in the Yankees' 9-6 loss to the White Sox.
"It's been a tough road trip. We didn't do well in Chicago," Robertson said. "We needed to take a series here and win some games. We need to string together a bunch of wins."
The Yankees scored three in the second against Ubaldo Jimenez (9-13). Ichiro Suzuki lined an RBI single off the top of Jimenez's glove and into centerfield, and after Chris Stewart's perfect sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third, Jeter's RBI groundout and Swisher's RBI single made it 3-0.
Ichiro has seven hits in his last 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Swisher (three hits) is 25-for-70 (.357) with 18 RBIs in 18 games since moving into the two-hole Aug. 8. He is 28-for-74 (.378) in his last 19. "He's just in a good groove," Girardi said.
Twenty-two games from now, he hopes he can say the same of his team.