The floodgates didn't exactly open to unleash a torrent of runs from Yankees hitters who have been tied in knots lately with runners in scoring position. But they got a solo homer from Robinson Cano and managed to squeeze two runs out of a bases-loaded situation with no outs in the fifth, and that was enough for a 3-2 win over Kansas City Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
As it turned out, the winning run scored on a groundout by Curtis Granderson in the fifth, and they needed a great defensive play for the final out to escape with only their second win in the past eight games. It was only the Yankees' second win against 16 losses when held to three or fewer runs.
Derek Jeter, who drove in the tying run with a bases-loaded single in the fifth, couldn't help but give in to a touch of sarcasm when asked if his hit relieved some pressure. "Yeah, because we scored a lot of runs right after that," he said. "I mean, you want to do it over a long stretch of time. We won today, which was good. It's a big win."
Cano made it a 2-1 deficit with a solo shot to rightfield in the fourth. In the fifth, the Yankees loaded the bases with no outs on a single by Mark Teixeira, Russell Martin getting hit by a pitch and a perfectly executed bunt single down the third-base line by Dewayne Wise.
With Royals centerfielder Jarrod Dyson shading him toward right-center, Jeter still managed to go to the opposite field and drop a single in to plate Teixeira and tie the score at 2. "I'm not thinking about what we've done the last week or two weeks or whatever," Jeter said. "Every time you're up, you have a chance to do something. The ball fortunately found a hole."
Granderson then grounded out to second, scoring Martin with the go-ahead run. Luke Hochevar intentionally walked Cano to load the bases again with just one out and Alex Rodriguez coming up. Call it a sign of disrespect or a move based on current reality, but it worked. Instead of his 23rd career grand slam, A-Rod fouled off the 1-and-1 sinker he liked and wound up fanning meekly on a half-swing at a cutter.
"I love that," A-Rod said of the walk to Cano. "It makes me real excited, but I don't like striking out in that situation. I'll take my chances. If they're going to do that again, I'm going to be ready . . . I wasn't in a hitting position . The pitch for me was the 1-1 pitch. You've got to hit that ball. At least put it in play."
Raul Ibañez then struck out to snuff a potentially explosive rally and left the Yankees clinging to a one-run lead.
Hughes nearly gave it back before escaping a bases-loaded situation in the sixth. Four relievers got the game to closer Rafael Soriano, who gave up a one-out double to Alex Gordon, who advanced to third on a groundout, creating an anxious moment for the crowd of 37,674.
But the Royals' Alcides Escobar hit a tough grounder down the third-base line to A-Rod, who fielded it cleanly behind the bag and gunned a high throw to Teixeira, who stretched to pull it in for the win. "Whooo! Exciting play," Rodriguez said, expressing the relief in the Yankees' locker room. "Good play on Tex's end. Awesome."