Granderson powers Yanks past Royals
Rodriguez remains in search of historic 600th home run
NEW YORK -- The waiting is the hardest part.
Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees and a slew of fans have waited -- through a weekend, through a pair of lengthy rain delays and now, through at least one more night.
The Yankees' 12-6 victory over the Royals on Sunday included its share of surprises: Curtis Granderson and Scott Podsednik proved unlikely sources of multi-homer power, Jorge Posada was charged with an error on a play manager Joe Girardi claims he had never seen before, and the game resumed following a 2-hour 32-minute rain delay.
It was more notable, however, for the milestone home run it lacked.
For the third straight game, the fans trudged home from Yankee Stadium with that twinge of disappointment that follows a missed opportunity. It was simultaneously compounded by the knowledge that Rodriguez will, in all likelihood, hit his 600th home run during the team's seven-game road trip this week, and negated by the fact that the Bombers scored a dozen runs even with their third baseman held in the yard.
One day after Mark Teixeira hit two home runs, it was Granderson who turned the trick for the fifth time in his career. Granderson's leadoff homer in the third into the bullpen in right-center was the Yankees' first hit of the day and first off Kansas City starter Sean O'Sullivan in seven innings, dating back to his start against the Bombers on Tuesday as a member of the Angels.
O'Sullivan had retired 22 of the previous 23 Yankees he had faced before Granderson's home run, and he struggled to start a new streak. He surrendered three more runs on four more hits in the third, including a pair of RBI doubles by Derek Jeter and Rodriguez.
One inning later, Granderson took O'Sullivan deeper, launching a 2-1 pitch into the second deck in right field.
"Today was one of those days," Granderson said. "It's always good to go ahead and get things positive for yourself."
Granderson's contributions on Sunday marked the most tangible sign of a potential hot streak from the struggling center fielder. Long seeking the swing that made him an All-Star in Detroit last season, Granderson may have finally found his groove at the plate, with hits in five straight games and a .327 average in his past 13.
"Grandy looks like he's the kind of guy that really needs to play and get rhythm," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's swinging the bat good right now."
"We couldn't keep them off base, and we couldn't stop them from driving in runs," said Podsednik, who had nine hits for the Royals in the four games in the Bronx. "Their offense was pretty much the story all weekend."
Granderson's two home runs gave him nine on the season and helped provide a cushion for starter Phil Hughes, who in Girardi's terms was "better," with the implication that there was plenty of room to improve. Hughes allowed his own pair of home runs: an opposite-field, two-run shot off the foul pole in left by Podsednik in the third and a solo blast off the facing of the third deck in right by Rick Ankiel in the fourth. All 15 of the home runs Hughes has allowed this season have been at Yankee Stadium.
"For the distance that the first one lacked, that one definitely made up for it," Hughes said of Ankiel's shot.
By the time Hughes really settled in, however, the rains had arrived, interrupting the game and eventually truncating his outing. He allowed the three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking none. It was good enough for his 12th win of the season, but just his second in July.
"I could get a lot better," said Hughes, who is now 2-2 with a 6.52 ERA in the five starts since he first received extra rest to limit his innings count this season. "It'll be nice to get another one of these [starts on regular rest] and hopefully stay on track for a while."
Joba Chamberlain again labored out of the bullpen, serving up Podsednik's second two-run shot of the game to cut the Yankees' lead to 7-5 in the eighth. That was nothing, though, compared to the struggles of Kansas City's Blake Wood in the bottom of the frame. Wood let six of the seven batters he faced reach base, with five eventually coming around to score. He left to loud boos after hitting Rodriguez with a fastball on the left hand.
The Royals got one back on a bizarre play in the ninth. With a runner on third and two outs, Posada threw off his mask while blocking a Chan Ho Park delivery in the dirt. As the ball rolled slowly to a stop a few feet away, it lounged against Posada's mask. The umpires ruled it illegal use of equipment, allowing the run to score.
Both Girardi and Posada said they thought the rule stipulated that the use of the mask to stop the ball had to be intentional.
"I've seen it intentionally. I've never seen it unintentionally," Girardi said. "I asked [bench coach] Tony Pena, who's been around much longer than I have if he's ever seen it, and he said 'no.'"
It wasn't the novelty Girardi nor the 47,890 in announced attendance were there to see. They'll settle for a win, but they're waiting for something more.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.