Six-run frame plenty for Hughes in Seattle
Back-to-back third inning homers swing momentum in Yanks' favor
SEATTLE -- After just one week back and with a bulbous bag of ice still wrapped over his right wrist following games, Mark Teixeira is helping Yankees all around him.
Above and below him in the batting order. On the mound, even.
Two pitches after Robinson Cano's three-run home run in the top of the third inning on Thursday night, Teixeira hit his third homer since his season debut a week ago. Those were the biggest of seven consecutive hits by the Yankees off ambushed Mariners starter Aaron Harang, helping New York cruise to a 6-1 win to begin a 10-game West Coast swing.
"It's a big deal for me," Cano said after his second hit in 16 at-bats, plus Teixeira's third home run in four games, gave starter Phil Hughes all the offense he needed in the Yankees' fourth consecutive victory. "Just the kind of hitter he is, it's good to have him back and seeing him hitting again.
"I see a difference: I'm getting more pitches to hit. It's good to see him back."
New York's season-high eight hits in an inning -- sparked by a perfectly timed hit-and-run play -- helped Hughes bounce back from a rough start last weekend against Boston. Hughes (3-4) barely blinked while allowing just three hits in seven-plus innings, striking out seven for his first win since May 10.
The right-hander effectively used more offspeed pitches early in counts to set up his fastball, rather than on just the fastball, as he did on Saturday while losing to Boston.
The one run charged to Hughes was unearned and scored three batters after he left in the eighth, following his second walk, then a fielder's-choice groundout and an error.
Hughes allowed the same team that battered him out of Yankee Stadium during the first inning last month just three insignificant singles and two walks this time. It was the fewest hits he had allowed in a start since he gave up two on Aug. 19, 2011, at Minnesota.
Hughes fulfilled manager Joe Girardi's pregame hope that the 26-year-old righty would stay out of long counts to get quick outs with a consistently effective fastball. He struck out Seattle's leading slugger, Michael Morse, on four pitches in the second and again in the seventh. He fanned Kelly Shoppach on three fastballs in the third and Morse again on a 93-mph fastball with a rare baserunner on to end the fourth.
"I mixed stuff up a lot more," Hughes said of his slider and changeup. "That made things a lot easier for my fastball … to climb the ladder later in counts.
"And it helps to get a lead. That allows you to relax a little bit."
Travis Hafner singled and scored behind Teixeira's homer in the third, part of Hafner's two-hit night.
All told, it was four hits, four RBIs, two home runs and three runs scored for Teixeira and the hitters immediately before and after him in the lineup.
"That's huge," Teixeira said, unwrapping the ice pack from the wrist that cost him the season's first 53 games. "I always want the guy in front of me to get good pitches to hit. And I always want the guy behind me to be hitting well so I get good pitches to hit as well.
"It feels good. I'm still not close to where I want to be, overall. There are still at-bats where I feel completely lost. But that's going to take [time]. That's just a product of not playing for so long.
"But when I do get a pitch to hit, or when I do make contact, I am getting results."
Such as on the 1-0 fastball Harang sent to the bottom of the strike zone in the third. Teixeira golfed that over the wall beyond right-center field to make it 4-0.
"It changes what teams will do," Girardi said of having Teixeira back batting third. "And it helps everybody else."
The Mariners looked every bit the team that had lost a 16-inning, 5-hour, 42-minute game to the Chicago White Sox a day earlier -- at the plate and with Harang on the mound.
The Yankees had scored four or fewer runs 10 times in the previous 12 games. Then they got to feast on Harang's fastballs, which were meaty, high and straight, as well as split-fingered pitches that didn't dive.
Jayson Nix started the big inning with a single. One out later, Girardi had Nix break for second base on a hit-and-run play. Brett Gardner hit Harang's 3-1 pitch into the hole that second baseman Nick Franklin had vacated to cover Nix's steal, and the Yankees had first and third with one out instead of a possible inning-ending double play.
Cano then hit his 15th home run, followed quickly by Teixeira's shot.
"I felt like I was executing some good pitches," said Harang, who was out after allowing six runs and throwing 56 pitches. "I think the only real mistake was the one to Cano."