Home Runs, Johnson Pitching Routs O's 7-1
The difference between Jason Giambi’s previous April and this one is like the difference between the Yankees play during day games and night games. Giambi started last season under the cloud of admitted steroid abuse (well technically to a grand jury not to the public) and a public apology for “nothing”. He pressed in every at-bat, and except for his ability to draw walks, was virtually useless at the plate. What a difference a year makes. While the walks still come in bunches, so have the home runs. Giambi blasted two more Sunday afternoon giving him 7 for the season. By comparison, Giambi didn’t his 7th last season until July.
The home runs help support the bounce-back performance by Randy Johnson as the Yankees rolled over the Baltimore Orioles 7-1. Giambi nearly had a third home run in the seventh when his drive to left hit the base of the wall. He had to settle for a 2-run double that gave him 5 RBI on the day.
Johnson, meanwhile, looked nothing like the pitcher that got hammered by the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. He threw 94 pitches in 8 innings of work, limiting the O’s to 1 run, 3 hits, and 1 walk while striking out 5. The victory was his third of the season and the 266th of his career.
Baltimore struck first, when Miguel Tejada blasted a high drive off of the foul screen in left for his fourth home run of the year and a 1-0 Orioles lead. Giambi quickly tied it in the 2nd, with his first home run into the bleachers in right-center. With one out, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, and Andy Phillips delivered consecutive singles for a 2-1 lead. Orioles starter Bruce Chen got out of further trouble by inducing Johnny Damon to ground into an inning ending double play.
Giambi struck again in the third, but not before the Yankees nearly ran themselves out of the inning completely. Derek Jeter singled to center, but was picked off of first by Chen. First baseman Kevin Millar threw to Tejada who tagged out Jeter on the steal attempt. Gary Sheffield then singled, but was also quickly erased when catcher Ramon Hernandez threw him out attempting to steal second. The Yankees then caught a break, when a bad hop off the bat of Alex Rodriguez nearly broke third baseman Melvin Mora’s thumb. The play was ruled and error, and kept the inning alive. Giambi then crushed a Chen pitch into the upper deck for a 4-1 lead.
Giambi had one other RBI opportunity in the fifth after Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly scored Damon and advanced Jeter to third. Giambi’s line drive was snared, doubling Sheffield off of first base though.
Johnson had only lasted 3-plus innings in the loss to Toronto, but after Tejada’s home run, did not allow a runner to reach second base. Actually if not for Tejada, the Yankees may have thrown a no-hitter. Tejada had all four Baltimore hits, including one off of Mariano Rivera who pitched the ninth.
Robinson Cano’s two hits extended his hitting streak to 12 games and raised his average to .349.
Derek Jeter, who was presented with second Gold Glove before the game, had 3 hits, raising his average to .375. Gary Sheffield’s pair raised him up to .357.
Sheffield ran into the right field wall in foul territory chasing a ball of the bat of Jay Gibbons in the ninth. Sheffield bruised his knee, but remained in the game and should be ready to play Tuesday night against the Devil Rays.
By taking 2 of 3 from the Orioles, the Yankees won their first series against a team other than the Kansas City Royals.