The Yankees hit three home runs and in Friday's win over the Red Sox, but the most popular postgame topic was a hustle play in the opening inning by Mark Teixeira.
Instead of trailing after their first turn at-bat, the Yankees wound up with three runs and never relinquished the lead in a 10-3 rout of the Red Sox.
The inning turned on a routine double play grounder that was anything but. With runners at the corner and the Red Sox employing the shift, Teixeira hit Aaron Cook’s sinker on the ground to Dustin Pedroia at second base.
Pedroia did his part by tossing to shortstop Mike Aviles for the force. Avilles was slow in getting the ball to first and Teixeira beat it out as Curtis Granderson scored the tying run.
“With my speed, I always feel like I have a chance to beat it out,” Teixeira said. “Cook did exactly what he wanted me to do there -- first pitch sinker down and away, next pitch sinker down in the zone -- and I beat it into the ground. I thought I hit too hard, I really did, and I think the shortstop just kind of took his time a little bit. I was just running as fast as I could and it ended up being a big play.”
Just six pitches later, Raul Ibanez turned on Cook’s 2-2 sinker and lined it over the right-field fence for a 3-1 lead. It set up the Yankees’ sixth win in seven games and 60th of the year.
“I think Tex caused the inning to happen by his hustle,” Ibanez said.
“After the home run, you realize it was a three-run play,” Teixeira said. “You don’t take pride in making an out, but getting an RBI there and extending the inning is big.”
The hustle play did not ensure anything was going to be easy, especially since Hughes gave up three solo home runs. Besides Pedroia’s first-inning home run, Hughes also allowed solo shots to Carl Crawford in the third and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fourth.
“That’s always big,” Hughes said of Teixeira’s play. “That turned into two more runs. So nobody overlooked that hustle play right there. Just to beat out that double play was huge by Tex and I think that set the tone for the whole game.”
“That’s just a great hustle play,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That kind of set the tone a little bit for us during the game. It’s a double play ball and they don’t turn it. Then Ibanez hits a two-run homer and it gave us the lead and Hughsie never gave up the lead.
After leaving a first-pitch fastball up to Saltalamacchia, Hughes breezed through the rest of his 10th win and wound up allowing three runs and five hits in seven innings. He needed just 47 pitches to retire 11 of the final 12 hitters and won for the second time in 10 career starts against Boston.
That sped up the pace of the game, which appeared to be crawling to a halt during a 29-pitch first inning for Hughes. During that frame, Girardi admitted he wasn’t thinking Hughes could get to the seventh.
“They put some tough at-bats on him right away,” Girardi said. “They got in some long counts. I think he threw over 25 in the first inning and you’re thinking it’s going to be tough to get seven innings out of him; it might be tough to get six, but he settled down nicely and went right to work.”
Friday marked the home debut of Ichiro Suzuki as well. He singled and scored on Russell Martin’s two-run home run in the fourth. He also reached on a force out in the eighth and scored on Curtis Granderson’s fifth career grand slam.
“The impression that I have is that for a long time is that the Yankees are just groomed to win,” Ichiro said through an interpreter. “Mentally I feel like that the players have that and have experienced it and they’re accustomed to winning.”
“[It was] great,” Girardi said. “I think he’s enjoying being here. He seems to be having a lot of fun. He’s got a sense of humor, something I didn’t know about when he came over here, but he’s a guy that likes to have fun and he fits right in that group.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.