Yankees club five home runs in rout of Pirates
The baseball leaped off Alfonso Soriano's bat in sky-high fashion, and Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez's immediate reaction was to look down and stare helplessly at the ground. If he was thinking "Not again," could you blame him?
There was no doubt where Soriano's seventh-inning shot was headed, over the wall for yet another Yankees home run, one of their five on the day.
Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann each hit two-run home runs and Zoilo Almonte, Brett Gardner and Soriano added solo shots en route to a 7-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates before an announced crowd of 47,353 at Yankee Stadium.
As the Yankees returned to their home park after a week including four Subway Series games and a washout Friday, the long ball ruled the day.
"Our team is built for this park," manager Joe Girardi said. "When you put a team together and talk about the type of hitters you want, you build it around your park because you know you're guaranteed 81 games there."
This marked the Pirates' first game at the home-run haven that is the new Yankee Stadium, and by the end of the day, they probably dreaded the thought of going through with Sunday's doubleheader the way the Yankees swung the bats Saturday.
Volquez entered the game having allowed five homers in 431/3 innings this season, and he almost matched that total Saturday afternoon, giving up four in 61/3 innings.
For the Yankees, the five homers served as a reminder of how they might have to win games while they make do with three-fifths of their rotation (CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova) on the disabled list.
The run of homers began in the first inning thanks to a two-run shot by Teixeira, continuing his recent power surge. It was his fourth in 20 at-bats and eighth in 17 games.
"A home run like today, it gets us on the board, it gets us going," said Teixeira, whose two-run shot in the first inning opened the scoring. "Home runs when you lose are pretty empty."
Volquez wanted to throw the 1-and-2 sinker to Teixeira on the inside corner, but the pitch tailed back over the plate and Teixeira made him pay, something the Yankees first baseman has been doing a lot of lately.
And on this day, the big swings were contagious.
The beneficiary of the five homers was David Phelps, one of the rotation's three current stand-ins. He pitched into and out of trouble all day, and he was fortunate to leave after five scoreless innings having not allowed a run.
Phelps got off to a rough start. Of the first six hitters he faced, he walked two and hit another. But he didn't allow any of those baserunners to score, setting the tone for an outing in which he showed poise pitching from the stretch.
The Pirates were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position against him and left seven runners on base.
"I felt he could settle down and he did," Girardi said. "He got us through five innings."
The Yankees offense took care of the rest.
Almonte, making his first start of the season after Jacoby Ellsbury was a late scratch, led off the third inning by hitting the first pitch he saw over the leftfield wall to make it 3-0.
The Pirates cut it to 3-1 in the sixth when Starling Marte greeted Dellin Betances with a home run on his first pitch, but Betances recovered by striking out the side. And Gardner got the run back in the bottom half by hitting a 1-and-0 sinker into the seats in right-center.
Soriano made it 5-1 in the seventh with a solo shot off the back wall of the Yankees' bullpen. And McCann added a two-out, two-run homer off reliever Vin Mazzaro in the eighth, lining a 2-and-1 pitch just over the short perch in rightfield to make it 7-1.