By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK (SPORTS)- Three home runs accounted for all five runs scored by the Yankees in their first game of the current 10-day homestand on Friday night. The 5-2 win over the Tampa Rays was the club’s sixth win in their most recent seven games.
Home runs were a major weapon in their recent success as they hit 15 in the seven contests, eight in the last two games.
A-Rod, dropped to fifth in the batting order after only hitting safely five times in his last 29 at bats, blasted his 27th homer of the season on the first pitch he saw in his first trip to the plate. The home run drove in the first two runs of the contest as Brian McCann was on first after drawing a walk.
Two innings later, McCann hit a solo home run off his “cousin” Jake Odorizzi. The Yankee catcher has hit successfully 11 times in 17 at bats with three homers and 10 RBI off the right-hander. The batter minimized his success by saying, “If you play long enough, you’re going to have success against somke guys.”
The third and final hit Odorizzi yielded was also a home run to rookie Greg Bird with one on in the seventh.
It was the rookie’s fourth homer and 14th RBI in his 19 big league games.
Another Yankee rookie, Luis Severino, who like Bird made his major league debut in August, has been a blessing to the Yanks. The Yankee starter won his third straight game by pitching a season high 6.1 innings. He gave up seven hits and only one run.
The run came on a homer by the Rays third sacker, Evan Longoria, his 15th at the current Yankee Stadium. He ranks second as a visiting player to only Jose bautista in number of home runs hit in the ballpark that opening in the 2009 season.
Severino’s catcher, McCann, was exteremly impressed by the young hurler, “He’s only going to get better and better.”
The victory of the Yanks coupled with Toronto’s 10-2 loss to Baltimore cut the Blue Jay’s advantage over the Yankees to 0.5 games in the tight pennant race that has one month remaining. An especially crucial series will begin on Thursday night when the Blue Jays visit Yankee Stadium to begin a four game series.