Score one for The Binder.
At first glance, it appeared Joe Girardi's statement of intent Wednesday was to cause the comment section to explode here at Pinstripe Alley.
Nick Swisher batting leadoff? Ramiro Pena at third? Andruw Jones in left? The team's two hottest hitters — Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner — on the bench?
It seemed like a recipe for disaster, that is, until the game started. The Yankees busted out their hitting sticks again, getting production up and down the lineup in a 12-4 win over the slumping Texas Rangers.
The Yankees have now won five of six games since they were swept by Boston to start their homestand. Josh Beckett was brilliant again tonight in St. Petersburg, meaning the Yankees kept pace in the AL East, remaining 1.5 games out. New York has a two-game lead over the Indians and Tigers in the wild card race.
Pena and Eduardo Nunez don't look anything like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter on the left side of the diamond, but the production suffered no letdown. The two combined to go 4-for-8 with two homers, three runs, three RBIs, and two steals.
Not all the hitting stars were surprising. Curtis Granderson has deservedly gotten lots of buzz as an early MVP candidate this season, but Mark Teixeira has quietly been every bit the run producer. He homered twice tonight, the first erasing an early 2-0 deficit and the second putting the game away in the sixth.
On the 50th anniversary of the M&M Boys' famous chase of The Babe, Granderson and Tex are putting together a reasonable facsimile of those past Yankee greats. They each have 21 homers, which is good for a share of the Major League lead with Toronto's Jose Bautista.
The Yankees hit five home runs overall, the first time they pulled that off this season. Robinson Cano capped the scoring with a long three-run blast in the eighth. Other parts of Cano's game have slipped this season, but he continues to do damage when he makes contact. He now has 14 homers and 45 RBIs, unreal production for a middle infielder in the post-PED world.
Ivan Nova wasn't nearly as sharp as his last time out against Cleveland, but his four-run, seven-hit, 5 2/3-inning performance was good enough for his fifth win of the season. He struck out two and walked three, throwing 89 pitches.
Derek Holland continued to struggle mightily against the Yankees, dropping to 0-4 in his career against New York during the regular season. He allowed six runs on seven hits in five innings.
- Tex has now homered from both sides of the plate in same game 11 times. For some perspective, Mickey Mantle accomplished this feat just 10 times. That said, Mantle forgot about more scored tail than Mark Teixeira could ever imagine.
- A-Rod now has 1,799 career runs, tying him with Ted Williams for 17th on the all-time list. This triggered a $45 million bonus. Thanks Hank!
- Pena's sixth-inning no-doubter (seriously) represented his first homer in 166 at-bats.
- Nomar Garciaparra is bad at his job.
- The Rangers have dropped four in a row and are now just three games over .500. Luckily, they play in the AL West, a division where the Rockford Peaches could compete. I mean the Rockford Peaches ... right now.
- ESPN's Pedro Gomez said during the ninth inning that Phil Hughes is three rehab starts away from joining the Yankees. Excellent.
- The kid along the first-base line that YES showed sloppily eating ice cream at one point was handed two foul balls by the ball boy. This could be you! (if your Dad makes $600,000 a year).
Dan Hanzus is a regular contributor to Pinstripe Alley. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @danhanzus.