With 18 Hits, the Yankees Are Humming Again

 There was no meeting, no pep talk, no nothing after the Yankees were embarrassed by Boston last week. “Report at 4 o’clock the next day, that was it,” Curtis Granderson said. Every series has its own pace, its own rhythm. And at Yankee Stadium the thump-thump-thump of the Red Sox has given way to the off-key stylings of the Cleveland Indians. NY Yankees

The first three games of this four-game set in the Bronx have produced three resounding victories by the Yankees, who clobbered the Indians, 9-1, on Sunday afternoon behind a season-high 18 hits, but none that left the ballpark, which no doubt appeased the chorus of critics claiming that home runs are the Yankees’ tragic flaw.

After homering in the previous two games, Granderson settled for three singles and a double Sunday, scoring twice and driving in two. Alex Rodriguez (three R.B.I.) and Brett Gardner (three runs scored) added three hits each. Derek Jeter went 2 for 5 with a pair of run-scoring singles, increasing his career hit total to 2,993, to help back a solid outing by Freddy Garcia, who rebounded from a miserable start Tuesday against Boston by allowing one run in six and two-thirds innings.

“I hope I don’t do it with seven hits in one game,” Jeter said of reaching the 3,000-hit plateau. “That’s a long time to be out there.”

Jeter’s teammates are as conscious of his march toward baseball immortality — “How could I not?” Gardner said. “It’s all over the place” — as their own place in the American League East standings. The Yankees dropped to second place after a three-game sweep by Boston that Alex Rodriguez likened to being punched in the mouth. The Indians’ free fall now stands at 14 losses in 18 games, and the Yankees do not feel the least bit sorry for them. They are happy to feast on a struggling team.

“We don’t look back,” said Jorge Posada, who went 2 for 3 Sunday and whose six-game surge — 13 for 22 — has pushed his average (.226) past that of Nick Swisher (.225). “We keep looking forward.”

If so, then Monday’s starter, A. J. Burnett, must extend a run of stellar starting pitching that has produced a 1.33 earned run average over the first three games of this series. Garcia often worked out of trouble against the Indians, never having a clean inning, but relied on his splitter to hold the Indians hitless in 11 at-bats with runners on base — 10 with runners in scoring position.

For the season, opponents are batting .134 (9 for 67) against Garcia with runners in scoring position, which ties him with Oakland’s Gio Gonzalez for lowest in the American League, according to Stats LLC.

“You have to make a good pitch,” Garcia said. “I’ve been able to do that, and hopefully I’ll continue to do that.”

When Garcia pitched for the White Sox, Granderson would often face him with the Tigers. And he remembered approaching his at-bats thinking that Garcia, whose size (6 feet 4 inches, 250 pounds) belies a savvy pitching style, would try to bury fastballs by him.

“And I think that works to his advantage,” Granderson said, “because he’s not necessarily going to do that.”

The Yankees are hopeful that Garcia can remain healthy and strong, offsetting the loss of their other off-season budget signing-turned-revelation, Bartolo Colon. The day after straining his left hamstring while covering first base, Colon seemed to think that he could return after sitting out the minimum 15 days on the disabled list.

The results of his magnetic resonance imaging test encouraged the Yankees, but hamstring injuries are notoriously tricky, and given his age (38) and size (265 pounds, give or take a bowl of sancocho), they will probably take a conservative approach.

“I feel bad because I know the team needs some help and now I got hurt,” said Colon, who is eligible to be activated June 27. “But there’s nothing I can do about it.”

No replacement has been named to start Thursday’s game against Texas, but the leading candidates are the Class AAA right-handers David Phelps and Adam Warren. Hector Noesi, recalled Sunday, is also an option, though the Yankees seem more inclined to use him as a late-inning reliever.

Their normal late-inning tandem of Dave Robertson and Mariano Rivera were able to rest Sunday, in large part because of the Yankees’ five-run fifth against Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin.

The Yankees’ lineup was not posted until about 70 minutes before first pitch, not that it made much difference. Manager Joe Girardi wanted to check on the health of Russell Martin and Rodriguez, who was sore after being hit in the left thigh Saturday.

Rodriguez delivered key hits in both of the Yankees’ rallies, in the fifth and the eighth. Martin, who missed the last four games with a stiff back, was one of two starters — Mark Teixeira (0 for 4 with a walk) being the other — who failed to record at least two hits. Martin grounded into two inning-ending double plays en route to going 0 for 4 and also failed to throw out any of the five attempted base stealers.

“It feels the same as it did before the game,” Martin said of his back, “so that’s a good sign.”

And so were the last three games for the Yankees.

INSIDE PITCH

Outfielder Chris Dickerson replaced reliever Amauri Sanit, who went on the disabled list with a sore elbow.

Obtained by: Ben Shpigel

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