Lyle Overbay's slam, Robinson Cano's 3-run HR back Ivan Nova
Robinson Cano said it best. "We needed that really bad."
The "that" was some semblance of an offense from the Yankees, something they hadn't displayed in the previous three games but did Wednesday night in an 8-1 victory over the Royals in front of 35,781 on another muggy evening at the Stadium.
The Yankees were limited to one run in each of their previous three games, all losses.
"We couldn't score runs the last three games and then we came today and scored a lot of runs," Cano said. "Hopefully, we take it from there."
Cano provided one of the two biggest jolts of the game, in which Ivan Nova made another strong bid to stay in the rotation.
Cano's three-run homer in the third inning gave the Yankees (49-42) a 4-0 lead. Lyle Overbay blew it open in the sixth with his fourth career grand slam, making it 8-0. Both blasts came off Wade Davis (4-8, 5.89).
Nova (4-2, 3.63) had a nice encore to Friday when, replacing the pushed-back Hiroki Kuroda, he threw a complete-game victory over the Orioles.
The 26-year-old righthander, demoted earlier in the season because of poor performance, allowed one run and five hits in eight innings, shutting out the Royals for the first seven. He followed his 11-strikeout performance against the Orioles with six.
Following Cano's three-run shot, Joe Girardi felt good about his team's chances. "The way Nova was throwing the baseball," he said, "you felt that that might hold up."
These being the 2013 Yankees, however, the concern about injury is never far away, and it struck Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner in the late innings.
Vernon Wells pinch hit for the slumping Hafner in the sixth (and ended up with two singles) after the DH hit a ball off his left foot warming up between innings in the indoor batting cage.
"Kind of a freak accident," said Hafner, adding he thought he could play Thursday afternoon. "Other than it being numb, it should be all right."
Later in the inning, in which the Yankees batted around, Brett Gardner took a J.C. Gutierrez pitch on his right shin. Gardner, who walked in the first, was hit by a pitch in the third and walked in the fifth, stayed in the game. However, Alberto Gonzalez, a reserve infielder, replaced Gardner in the top of the eighth, when he played rightfield and Ichiro Suzuki moved from right to center.
The Yankees announced Hafner had a left foot contusion and that Gardner had a right leg contusion. X-rays on both players came back negative, and Girardi said both were "day to day," not ruling either out for Thursday.
Cano's homer in the third, in addition to providing Nova a 4-0 cushion, was his 1,559th hit, sending him past Thurman Munson for sole possession of 18th place on the Yankees' all-time list.
"A great man," Cano said of Munson. "People always say good things about him. It's an honor."
Before Cano's home run, 37 of the Yankees' previous 40 hits were singles.
Cano started the sixth-inning rally with a single to left. Wells, batting for Hafner, singled, and a walk to Zoilo Almonte loaded the bases for Overbay. The first baseman took Davis' 3-and-2 pitch opposite field to left for his 11th homer of the season and fourth career grand slam. It was Overbay's first slam since May 10, 2006, when he was with the Blue Jays.
"I'm just glad I put a swing on it and got it in the outfield," Overbay said. "I can't remember how many times I've struck out with the bases loaded. It's been one of those things. So I was just happy I put the ball in play and get at least a sacrifice fly, and then it just kept going."