It happens very infrequently, but Chris Stewart and Jayson Nix both hit homers yesterday to help the Yankees sweep the doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays. In the first game, an easy 8-4 win, Stewart hit a three-run homer for his fourth home run of the campaign, and in the night game, where the Yankees edged the Blue Jays 3-2, Nix hit the walk-off single and slugged his third homer of the season.
A highlight from the first game of the doubleheader was that Robinson Cano hit his 200th homer of his career. This home run was hit to center and landed in the netting above monument park. He is now 16th on the all-time Yankees homer list, and will soon pass legendary Yankees like Roger Maris and Bill Dickey.
When players known for their defense like Stewart and Nix can help lead the Yankees to wins with their bat you know that the team is coming together at the right time. Going back to August 9, the Yankees have now won nine of their last 12 games. This is the result of solid pitching and a much better offensive showing than earlier in the season.
In their previous eight games (six wins), the Yankees have scored more than five runs in six of those games. However, in the games between August 2-10, where they won twice and lost six games, they only scored more than five runs in one game.
The Yankees have recently been led by Alfonso Soriano (he hit .484 and drove in 18 runs last week), Robinson Cano (he is hitting .600 in the last seven games) and Alex Rodriguez (three multi-hit games in his last six games. However, an underrated player who has picked it up offensively is catcher Austin Romine. He was not able to hit earlier in the season and did not appear ready for regular playing time, but after another three hits in the second game, he has been able to raise his average from .165 to .231 since July 24.
Put another way, Romine is 12 for his last 32, which is a .375 batting average. He is turning into a solid all around catcher. He obviously has all of the tools behind the plate as he has a strong arm to throw out base-stealers and calls a solid game behind the plate. The Yankees will need him to continue to hit for a solid average for the rest of the season.
The Yankees were able to take advantage of a shaky Blue Jays pitcher in Esmil Rogers in the first game and then in the second game Nix’s walk-off hit came off of Darren Oliver, who made his MLB debut in 1993. Ichrio Suzuki, who came into the second game as a pinch runner, after recording two hits in the first game, scored the winning run after his steal of third.
Ichiro Suzuki is on the verge of hitting his 4,000th combined hit between his nine seasons with the Orix Blue Wave and 13 seasons in the MLB with the Seattle Mariners and Yankees. He currently has 3,999 hits, so it seems likely that he will reach the milestone in tonight’s game against R.A. Dickey. As a result of Ichiro not losing much of the speed that he had earlier in his career and his ability to virtually hit the ball where he wants it to go, it seems that he will be able to get the 279 more hits that he needs to reach 3,000 in Major League Baseball.
After their two wins yesterday, and the loss by the Orioles, the Yankees are now five games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild-Card spot and one-game behind the Baltimore Orioles.