Yankees use small ball to beat Rays, hold onto lead

Russell Martin homered in the Yankees win.

Standing at his locker in between Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano, Eduardo Nunez addressed the group of reporters wanting to know about his exploits on the bases wearing a green T-shirt that read “The Life of the Party.”

Nunez fit that description during the “small ball” party the Yankees had in building the first two runs in a decisive five-run third inning in Sunday’s 6-4 victory over the Rays. The win kept them in sole possession of first place in the AL East.

“I feel like I can do things to help this team win,” Nunez said. “You can’t always win games with home runs. Sometimes you need walks and stolen bases.”

“I call it small ball,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s more than bunting. It just brings an element where you can create runs and that’s really important for clubs.”

In a game that began with the Yankees getting dominated by Matt Moore and generating several weak swings and misses, it was the smaller things that sparked their seventh win in 11 games and their most productive inning at Yankee Stadium since the sixth inning on Aug. 16 against Texas.

“He was really dominating us those two innings,” Alex Rodriguez said. “I said yesterday that he changes the game offensively for us. He has a unique package. He has power; he has speed.”

The Yankees don’t necessarily need the power element Nunez showed Saturday in hitting his first home run. Rather, they can use an injection of what occurred in a third inning Sunday when they saw nearly 50 pitches.

It started rather uneventfully as Nunez led off with a walk, making him an immediate stolen base threat for a team that came into Sunday ranked 12th in the AL with 74 steals. Moore repeatedly threw over, but Nunez swiped second on a 1-1 pitch and two pitches later, Derek Jeter’s single to right scored the first run.

In keeping with the theme of “small ball,” Nick Swisher moved Jeter to third by deciding to bunt on his own.

“Moore’s throwing super hard,” Swisher said. “I’m kind of a pull guy and [I wanted] to put the ball on the carpet and move that runner over.”

That was followed by Rodriguez lining a 2-2 changeup into center field, which easily scored Jeter.

“I was trying to think small,” Rodriguez said. “That was probably the best offensive inning we had all year. We had a walk, we had a bunt, we had a stolen base and we had a homer. Those things are good for us. Hopefully we can build off this.”

The string of good at-bats continued when Robinson Cano walked and Russell Martin hit a full-count fastball into the right field seats for a three-run home run and five-run lead.

“The patience was what really paid off,” Girardi said. “You look up and I think we had six runs on three hits. We took advantage of some things. Nuney stole some bases, just some really good at-bats. You look at Alex’s at-bat with a runner on third, less than two outs down to two strikes and he ends up getting the base hit.”

The trio of small ball, good at-bats and power assisted Hiroki Kuroda earn his 11th win in 15 decisions since May 27. Kuroda pitched six solid innings as he dominated through five and ran into some bad luck in the sixth.

The bad luck included a fan reaching over to grab a catchable foul ball away from first baseman Steve Pearce. It also included Evan Longoria’s double-play grounder taking a weird hop and going over Rodriguez’s head for two runs.

After getting Matt Joyce on a double play that scored a run, Kuroda finished off his 14th victory by striking out B.J. Upton. It was the 10th strikeout for Kuroda, who used his combination of split-fingered fastballs and sliders to come within one of his career high.

Small ball also helped give Kuroda more than five runs for just the second time since July 18 and the 10th time in his 30 starts.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Best nature spots for kids in New York…

When it comes to kids and nature, most U.S. parents agree: children should be spending more time outdoors. According to a recent survey by The…

Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.