Yankees get out of Denver and the offense gets better
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Oddly, all it took for the Yankees' offense to get going was a trip out of Denver's Coors Field. Some woeful Kansas City pitching didn't hurt, either.
It was Joe Girardi's 500th victory as Yankees manager and 578th career win.
"I've been blessed to have this opportunity," said Girardi, hired in October 2007. "The Steinbrenners and Cash trusted me and put me in this position. I'm fortunate."
Phil Hughes was a fortunate beneficiary of the 16 hits and Overbay was the star, putting aside his 1-for-10 start to this trip by going 4-for-5 with five RBIs.
"It's kind of nice to have new scenery because I was terrible in Colorado," Overbay said.
The first baseman, signed by the Yankees hours after being released by the Red Sox toward the end of spring training, is hitting .264 with six homers, tied for third on the team, and 20 RBIs, one fewer than Robinson Cano's 21.
"I'm just enjoying it," Overbay said of his ride since being signed. "I was going to be going home."
Hughes, 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his previous four outings wasn't good Friday night, allowing six runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"Glad to have had a not-so-good game on a night we scored a lot of runs," Hughes said. "I didn't have a good fastball and didn't have a feel for my breaking stuff."
Hughes gave up three runs in the bottom half of the second after being provided a 4-0 lead on the two-run homers in the top half by Ichiro and Overbay. After being handed a 5-3 lead in the fourth, he allowed two in the Royals' fifth to tie it.
Ichiro started the rally by doubling to right. Overbay had an RBI double in the inning and Nelson a two-run single. Gardner added an RBI triple.
Shawn Kelley was an under-the-radar star, replacing Hughes with two outs in the sixth and striking out six of the seven batters he faced.
"I was executing my pitches tonight and was able to get ahead," said Kelley, who has 24 strikeouts and four walks in 14 2/3 innings.
"I was getting ahead with my fastball and that allowed me to use my slider later in the count. That's my strength and I was able to do that today."
Notes & quotes: Joba Chamberlain (oblique strain) threw a bullpen session and could be sent out on a rehab assignment as soon as Monday . . . Girardi didn't rule out CC Sabathia, who threw 51 pitches in four innings Thursday before a rain delay ended his outing, as a possibility to start one of the doubleheader games Monday in Cleveland.
. . . Girardi said Kevin Youkilis (back) is doing better, but . . . "I don't have an expectation when we're going to see him."