Nix, Stewart, Cano fuel Yankees' doubleheader sweep
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If the Yankees were happy to return to the baseball diamond Tuesday, who could blame them? Their last few days have been dominated by all things A-Rod, who is appealing his 211-game PED suspension while also waging a public war with the Yankees and MLB.
This was a day about baseball, a lot of baseball, and the Yankees made the most of it.
The Yankees swept the day-night doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays by coming from behind in both games, winning the first game, 8-4, and the second game, 3-2, in walk-off fashion. Jayson Nix's one-out single to leftfield in the ninth scored pinch runner Ichiro Suzuki with the winning run.
"A good day, a good day," manager Joe Girardi said, looking content, but a little tired, too.
The Yankees suddenly boast a lineup with the firepower and resolve that fans have grown used to seeing in the Bronx over the years. They fought back Tuesday from four runs down in the first game and one run down in the second for the sweep.
The Yankees have won nine of their last 12 games and are putting themselves in position to maybe make a run at the postseason. Though in their minds, they're already playing in a playoff-like must-win situation every time they take the field these days.
"We're in the playoffs now," Nix said. "We need to win all these games."
Nix was a big reason they won the second game, thanks to his two-out home run in the seventh that tied the score at 2 in the seventh and then his game-winning hit in the ninth.
With Darren Oliver pitching, Mark Reynolds led off the inning with a walk. Girardi called for a pinch runner in Suzuki, who had gone 2-for-5 in the first game to pull within a hit of 4,000 combined hits between his years in Japan and Major League Baseball.
Ichiro advanced to second on Eduardo Nuñez's sacrifice bunt and brazenly stole third base with Nix up, setting the stage.
Moments later, Nix was on the receiving end of a Gatorade shower from teammate Brett Gardner while he waited to be interviewed by the YES Network in front of the Yankees' dugout. It was a nice reward after going 3-for-6 with two walks, three runs scored and two RBIs in the doubleheader.
Earlier, the Yankees played like an inspired bunch by coming back from a four-run deficit in the afternoon game.
Ivan Nova (7-4) recovered from a rough first few innings -- he gave up four runs in the second inning in which the Blue Jays sent nine hitters to the plate -- to last into the seventh inning.
He kept the Blue Jays at bay as the Yankees staged an impressive comeback, scoring eight unanswered runs. It began when Robinson Cano hit a towering three-run shot to straightaway centerfield in the bottom of the third off Toronto starter Esmil Rogers. That pulled the Yankees to within 4-3.
"He got us right back in that game with that three-run home run," Girardi said, "and things seemed to pick up after that."
The Yankees took the lead for good in the sixth when Chris Stewart launched a three-run shot into the leftfield stands off Neil Wagner. It was Stewart's first homer since May 15, a span of 173 at-bats, of which he was aware.
"That's not an everyday thing," Stewart said of his home run. But neither is sweeping a day-night doubleheader.
About the only negative for the Yankees was A-Rod, who went 1-for-7 with five strikeouts in the doubleheader. He also grounded into an inning-ending double play in the eighth in the nightcap after the Blue Jays intentionally walked Alfonso Soriano to get to him.
"I wasn't sure what we'd get in the second game," Girardi said. "Just a bad day."