|N.Y. Yankees (86-63) «||0||0||1||7||2||0||0||0||x||10||8||0|
Suzuki homered to start a comeback, then hit a go-ahead, two-run double in a seven-run fourth inning capped by Nick Swisher's grand slam as the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-7 Thursday night to open a one-game AL East lead over idle Baltimore.
After struggling for much of the summer, the Yankees have won five in a row, their longest winning string since June 23-27.
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"Having this momentum come at this point in the season, I think that's the Yankees," Suzuki said through a translator. "And I think that's what makes this team special."
Acquired from Seattle on July 23, Suzuki is hitting .321 since joining New York, including 9 for 12 with three doubles, a homer, four RBIs and four steals in the three-game sweep of the Blue Jays. He's batting .362 against lefties.
"Every time he comes up, the crowd gets electric," Swisher said.
Suzuki thinks he knows why.
"You could say that I'm surprised, but maybe when I was with the Mariners in right field, I did try and communicate with those fans in right field, maybe make some friends," he said.
While the Yankees have won seven of their last eight, so have the second-place Orioles. New York, which led the division by 10 games in mid-July, hosts Oakland this weekend while Baltimore is at Boston.
"When we go on these rolls a little bit, it just kind of feels like everyone just mellows out. It's real quiet in here. It's real chill. It's not as hectic," Swisher said.
New York was down 2-0 before Suzuki's solo home run in the third. He hooked a based-loaded double to right in the fourth on an 0-2 pitch, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead and extending Suzuki's spurt to nine hits in 10 at-bats.
That chased starter Aaron Laffey (3-6), and reliever Brad Lincoln loaded the bases with a walk to Jayson Nix. Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single for a 14-game hitting streak, and Swisher sent a 96 mph fastball into the right-field seats for his seventh career slam and third this season.
"I feel that we're getting that inner confidence back that we lost there for a little bit," Swisher said. "Regardless of whatever the situation is, whatever team we're playing, we feel like we're going to go out there and get the job done."
Phil Hughes (16-12) won his third straight start, allowing four runs and four hits in five innings with nine strikeouts. Hughes struck out Kelly Johnson with the bases loaded to end the third, then tied a major league record in the fourth by striking out four batters: J.P. Arencibia, Adeiny Hechavarria, Anthony Gose and Brett Lawrie. Hechavarria reached on Russell Martin's passed ball.
Backed by an 8-2 lead, Hughes also walked three and hit Moises Sierra with the bases loaded in the third. He allowed an RBI double in the second to Johnson
"Changeup command came and went. Fastball was kind of all over the place," Hughes said. "It was a nice night to get a lot of runs because I definitely needed it."
New York's big fourth inning started when Martin walked and took second on a delayed steal, Curtis Granderson reached when Johnson fumbled his grounder to second for an error and Casey McGehee loaded the bases for Suzuki with a walk.
"That's a deep lineup and they're explosive, as you saw tonight," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Toronto dropped to 66-82, ensuring the Blue Jays' second straight losing season and third in four years. Laffey gave up five runs -- four earned -- five walks and two hits in three-plus innings, dropping to 0-4 with a 5.45 ERA in his last eight appearances. There were 13 walks, eight by Toronto pitchers, and Blue Jays batters struck out 15 times.
"It's just one of those days that's pretty disappointing," Laffey said.
|Ichiro connects for a home run and a two-run double to help the Yanks to their fifth consecutive victory. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Brett Lawrie, 3B||5||0||1||1||0||2||2||.274|
|Colby Rasmus, CF||3||1||0||0||0||1||2||.226|
|Mike McCoy, LF||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||.180|
|Edwin Encarnacion, DH||4||0||2||0||1||1||0||.280|
|Adam Lind, 1B||3||2||1||0||2||0||3||.239|
|Moises Sierra, RF||4||1||1||3||0||3||1||.243|
|Kelly Johnson, 2B||5||1||2||2||0||2||3||.224|
|J.P. Arencibia, C||5||1||1||0||0||3||1||.226|
|Adeiny Hechavarria, SS||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.250|
|Anthony Gose, LF-CF||2||1||1||0||2||1||1||.217|
|2B - Adam Lind (13, Hughes), Kelly Johnson (18, Hughes), Anthony Gose (5, Wade)|
|HR - Moises Sierra (5, Hughes), Kelly Johnson (15, Wade)|
|RBI - Brett Lawrie (44), Mike McCoy (7), Moises Sierra 3 (13), Kelly Johnson 2 (53)|
|2-OUT RBI - Moises Sierra 3 (6)|
|CS - Anthony Gose (3, 3rd base by Hughes/Martin)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|E - Kelly Johnson (11, Misplayed grounder)|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Aaron Laffey (L,3-6)||3||2||5||4||5||3||1||4.80|
|WP - Jason Frasor 2 (4)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Laffey 86-48, Brad Lincoln 25-17, Brett Cecil 21-12, Jason Frasor 19-11, Joel Carreno 32-18|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Laffey 2-5, Brad Lincoln 2-0, Brett Cecil 1-1, Jason Frasor 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Aaron Laffey 17, Brad Lincoln 6, Brett Cecil 6, Jason Frasor 5, Joel Carreno 7|
|New York Yankees|
|Derek Jeter, SS||4||1||2||2||0||0||0||.323|
|Nick Swisher, RF-1B||4||1||1||4||1||3||2||.258|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||4||0||0||0||1||1||1||.299|
|Alex Rodriguez, DH||5||0||1||0||0||1||3||.273|
|Russell Martin, C||3||1||0||0||2||3||1||.205|
|Curtis Granderson, CF||3||2||1||0||1||1||1||.233|
|Casey McGehee, 1B||3||1||0||0||1||0||4||.218|
|Chris Dickerson, LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Ichiro Suzuki, LF-RF||4||2||2||3||0||1||1||.279|
|Jayson Nix, 3B||2||2||1||1||2||1||0||.246|
|2B - Curtis Granderson (17, Cecil), Ichiro Suzuki (25, Laffey), Jayson Nix (13, Cecil)|
|HR - Nick Swisher (21, Lincoln), Ichiro Suzuki (8, Laffey)|
|SH - Derek Jeter (5)|
|RBI - Derek Jeter 2 (57), Nick Swisher 4 (83), Ichiro Suzuki 3 (50), Jayson Nix (18)|
|2-OUT RBI - Derek Jeter (23), Jayson Nix (8)|
|SB - Russell Martin (6, 2nd base off Laffey/Arencibia)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Cano-Jeter-Swisher|
|PB - Russell Martin 2 (9)|
|New York Yankees|
|Phil Hughes (W,16-12)||5||4||4||4||3||9||1||4.05|
|David Robertson (S,2)||1||0||0||0||0||3||0||2.93|
|HBP - Rasmus (by Phil Hughes), Sierra (by Phil Hughes)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Phil Hughes 102-62, Derek Lowe 37-20, Cory Wade 15-9, Joba Chamberlain 15-9, David Robertson 12-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Phil Hughes 3-3, Derek Lowe 3-0, Joba Chamberlain 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Phil Hughes 24, Derek Lowe 8, Cory Wade 4, Joba Chamberlain 4, David Robertson 3|
|Attendance - 40511|
|Game Time - 3:41|
|Temperature - 65|
|Umpires - Home - Lance Barrett, First Base - Gary Cederstrom, Second Base - Lance Barksdale, Third Base - Adrian Johnson|