Clear 28° Good Evening
Clear 28° Good Evening

Raul Ibañez's grand slam in eighth lifts Yankees, 6-3

Raul Ibanez, center, is mobbed by Robinson Cano,

Raul Ibanez, center, is mobbed by Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira after he hit a grand slam home run in the 8th inning to give the Yankees a 6-2 lead. (July 16, 2012) Photo Credit: David Pokress

With the score tied, the bases loaded with two outs in the eighth inning and the count 3-and-1, Phil Hughes thought Raul Ibañez might take a pitch.

Afterward, Ibañez smiled and shook his head at the suggestion.

"No,'' he said before pausing. "No, definitely not.''

But he wasn't thinking grand slam, either. "It works the opposite,'' Ibañez said. "Bases loaded, two outs, there's no advantage really to hitting the ball in the air. I'm just trying to hit a line drive and try not to do too much.''

But Ibañez did plenty, continuing a season-long trend of late-inning production, cracking a grand slam to lift the Yankees to a 6-3 victory over the Blue Jays Monday night in front of 42,819 at the Stadium.

"He's come up with some huge hits for us,'' Joe Girardi said.

His blast into the second deck in rightfield off Jason Frasor, the 40-year-old Ibañez's 10th career grand slam, gave him 12 homers this season. Eight of them have come after the fifth inning and five have given the Yankees the lead.

"Very timely, very clutch,'' said Russell Martin, whose ninth homer snapped a homerless streak of 66 at-bats and made it 1-0 in the second inning. "And I think that's just what he's made out of. He's a veteran guy, understands the game. He's been doing it all year.''

The Blue Jays scored a run charged to Cody Eppley in the ninth, but with the tying run at the plate, Rafael Soriano struck out Colby Rasmus looking to earn his 23rd save in 24 opportunities.

The victory was the Yankees' third in four games after the All-Star break. They lead the second-place Orioles by nine games.

"The break, sometimes, you can come in from that a little bit flat,'' said Hughes, who pitched well in the no-decision, allowing two runs and four hits in seven innings and lowering his ERA from 4.33 to 4.22. "To be able to be playing well and pick up where we left off is definitely a positive for us, and hopefully we can keep it going.''

Two of the Blue Jays' hits were Adam Lind's eighth homer and Edwin Encarnacion's RBI double.

With one out in the eighth and lefty Aaron Loup pitching, Alex Rodriguez delivered his second hit of the night, a sharp single to left, and advanced to second on a passed ball. Robinson Cano, who already had extended his hitting streak to a career-best 19 games with an RBI double in the third, reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell called on the righthanded Frasor to turn the switch-hitting Mark Teixeira around, and Frasor hit him to load the bases for Nick Swisher, another switch hitter.

Batting from the left side, Swisher fell behind 0-and-2, worked the count full, then got caught looking at an off-speed breaking ball for the second out.

Then Ibañez lined a 3-and-1 fastball just into the second deck, sending the crowd into hysterics.

Ibañez, 0-for-11 with the bases loaded this season going into the game, said it was important for him to see the five pitches in Teixeira's at-bat and the eight in Swisher's. Then it was, the veteran said, a situation "when you're in the backyard as a kid you're thinking about.''

Hughes, 8-3 with a 3.46 ERA in his previous 12 starts, pitched well, a good rebound outing from his start in Boston before the break, a 9-5 loss in which he allowed five runs (three earned) and 10 hits in 51/3 innings.

"I think my fastball got me out of a lot of tough counts,'' said Hughes, who struck out four and walked three. "Probably wasn't my best fastball, but I didn't have my really good curveball going and the changeup I didn't use that much. Just a lot of fortunate flyouts and pop-outs with my fastball in counts that weren't in my favor. It was nice to be able to get them to miss on some of those.''

After Martin homered just over the wall in right in the second, the Yankees made it 2-0 in the third. With one out, Rodriguez ripped a double into the gap in left-center and Cano lined a bullet to right, just out of the reach of the diving Jose Bautista. The ball rolled to the wall for an RBI double.

In the eighth, Bautista (27 homers, 65 RBIs) ripped a 2-and-0 pitch foul and grabbed his left wrist. After a delay, Ben Francisco replaced him. After the game, the Blue Jays said X-rays were negative and that Bautista did not break a bone, but he has a tendon injury and will have an MRI Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury.

With Adam Ronis

New York Sports