Nick Swisher said the approach against R.A. Dickey was to have no approach. "You can't have a plan,'' he said Sunday nightbefore facing Dickey's knuckleball. "There is no plan because you never know what it's going to do. Just see it and hit it.''
Solid advice. And Swisher followed it to a T, swatting a 2-and-1 knuckleball for a three-run home run in a four-run third inning as the Yankees gave CC Sabathia a 4-0 lead in a game they'd eventually win, 6-5.
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"See it high, let it fly,'' Swisher said of the pitch he hit out for his 11th homer of the season.
A batter earlier, Mark Teixeira lined a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead that ended Dickey's streak at 442/3 innings without an earned run allowed.
Dickey lasted six innings, allowing five runs and five hits, before giving way to a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth. It was his shortest outing since going six innings May 17.
Swisher was bubbly -- of course, that is his default disposition most days -- before the game about facing a pitcher who had not allowed an earned run since May 22. Afterward, he said there was some motivation taken from the talk leading up to the game, the majority of it relating to Dickey. "It almost felt like all the talk was he'd just shut us out before we even stepped on the field,'' Swisher said.
Robinson Cano, whose 16th home run in the eighth inning provided the winning margin, said there's no secret to why the Yankees have beaten some of the best pitchers in the game this season. Before Dickey, there was David Price, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander.
"I don't want to sound cocky, but we have a great team,'' said Cano, who didn't think he should have been charged with an error on Justin Turner's sixth-inning grounder, saying the ball skipped on him. "We're not surprised we can beat guys like that.''
The Yankees looked as if they'd end Dickey's streak in the second. Cano lined out to left to start the inning and Teixeira, who had two RBIs in the first five innings, reached on an error. A passed ball, a walk to Swisher and a single by Raul Ibañez -- who improved to 9-for-26 in his career against former Mariners teammate Dickey -- loaded the bases with one out.
On Ibañez's hit, Teixeira nearly ran through the stop sign thrown up by Rob Thomson, one of the more aggressive third-base coaches in the game. The throw home from Lucas Duda was a strike and very well might have gotten Teixeira had he kept running. "I think he would have been out,'' Joe Girardi said. The Yankees wound up stranding three runners.
The Yankees scored a run against Dickey in the fifth. He hit Curtis Granderson to start the inning and then threw his first wild pitch of the season. One out later, Cano singled to left to send Granderson to third, and Teixeira's grounder made it 5-1.
The Mets rallied against Sabathia, who was charged with only one earned run in 52/3 innings but felt far more disappointed in himself than his defense, which committed three errors. Coming in, the Yankees had a league-low 29 errors.
"I just couldn't make two-strike pitches,'' Sabathia said. "They [errors] make no difference. I still need to go out and make pitches. Errors are going to happen. You have to be able to pick those guys up.''