Bench rallies Yankees again
New York — These no-name Yankees are making a name for themselves.
Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay homered on knuckleballs from R.A. Dickey, and New York rallied past the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 Sunday for a four-game sweep.
Despite missing injured All-Stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, the Yankees are 14-5 following a 1-4 start.
"We felt like if we pitched well, we were going to get big contributions from somebody," said Phil Hughes, who pitched well but remained winless in five starts.
They just weren't sure which bodies following a run of injuries.
Boesch homered into the first row of the right-field seats in the second inning. After Toronto took a 2-1 lead on Adam Lind's RBI single in the fourth and Maicer Izturis' run-scoring double off the base of the right-field wall in the sixth, the Yankees overcame a deficit for the fourth straight day.
Overbay hit a two-run homer into the right field bullpen in the seventh inning that was caught on the fly by Yankees reliever David Robertson.
Boesch began the day 1 for 6 against Dickey and Overbay 1 for 14, with both hits singles.
Overbay has three home runs, one more than his total last season. He said then-teammate Matt Stairs changed his mindset on knuckleballers a few years ago.
"His approach was to just try to pull homers. Ever since I did that, I started hitting them a lot better," Overbay said. "You start trying to feel for it, and it ends up beating you. It's just a matter of taking a big, strong, aggressive hack."
New York's batting order included four players added just before or during spring training: Overbay at first base, Boesch in right field, Vernon Wells in left and Travis Hafner at designated hitter - a day after hitting a three-run homer and go-ahead triple. Other starters included Jayson Nix at third, Eduardo Nunez at shortstop and Chris Stewart behind the plate.
"It's a group that has something to prove in a sense, some guys that are older that had some down years or some injury plagued years. some younger guys that are trying to establish themselves," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You didn't know how the new guys were going to respond, number one. We knew they had been very good players before. We've seen very good players come to New York and take time to adjust. We've seen guys that have injury plagued seasons that continue to have them and you can't shake that. We felt that we were going to have to win a lot of close games."
New York is 9-1 in games decided by two runs or fewer. When spring training began, the Yankees had realized many predicted them to finish at or near last in the AL East.
Without a win in his first five starts for the first time since 2008, Hughes allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings with a season-high nine strikeouts and one walk. Toronto ran up his pitch count, fouling off 25 of 111 offerings.
Boone Logan (1-1) pitched a one-hit seventh, Robertson threw a 1-2-3 eighth and Mariano Rivera finished with a perfect ninth for his ninth save in nine chances, extending his career record to 617.
Dickey (2-4) pitched in New York for the first time since getting his 20th win for the Mets last September. Dealt to Toronto after going 20-3 and winning the NL Cy Young Award, Dickey already has lost more games this year than in all of 2012.
The 38-year-old allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings, with four strikeouts and a walk. He's been slowed by soreness in his neck and back.
"If I have to battle it for a while, I'll battle it for a while until it goes away," he said. "It gets marginally better between starts. It's just that when I have to start it breaks down again."
Last-place Toronto (9-17) gave up just four hits but was swept in a four-game series in which it led every game for the first time since Sept. 19-21, 1995, at old Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays were 4 for 24 with runners in scoring position in the series and struck out 37 times, including 13 Sunday.
A favorite to win the division after bulking up its roster, Toronto is eight games under .500 in April for the first time since 2004, according to STATS.
"You want me to go out there and hit or something?" manager John Gibbons said. "I couldn't hit when I played."
• Yankees 3B-1B Kevin Youkilis was sidelined by a bad back for the sixth time in seven games and will have an MRI today. ... Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale was ejected for arguing in the seventh when New York's Eduardo Nunez was slow to walk to the plate after Overbay's homer. The Yankees said Nunez had something in an eye. ... Yankees CF Brett Gardner was left out of the starting lineup for the first time this season. He entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth.
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