Yankees 10, Devil Rays 3
NEW YORK (AP)—Back in the big leagues, Orlando Hernandez began baffling hitters again.
The Cuban right-hander with the deceptive delivery reintroduced himself to the Yankees on Sunday, pitching New York to a 10-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and a four-game sweep.
Making a surprise start in place of an ailing Mike Mussina, Hernandez (1-0) held the Devil Rays to two runs and five hits over five innings in his first major league appearance since 2002. He struck out five and walked three, throwing 51 of his 88 pitches for strikes.
Socks pulled high, knee kicking all the way to his chin, El Duque even flashed some of his old magic, tossing up a near-eephus pitch to Toby Hall in the second inning and getting him on a soft fly to left to end the inning.
It was far from a dominating performance—but not bad for a guy who missed all of last season due to shoulder surgery. He earned his first major league win since Sept. 5, 2002, against Detroit.
And it was a satisfying day all around for the Yankees—Sheffield hit a long homer off Danys Baez four pitches after the right-hander sent him sprawling to the dirt with high-and-tight pitch.
Sheffield stood near the plate to watch the ball sail over the left-center fence in the eighth, making it 10-3.
Aubrey Huff homered and Hall had three hits and two RBIs for the Devil Rays, who scored only 11 runs in the series. The Yankees have won 18 of their last 22 against Tampa Bay.
The Yankees headed into the All-Star break with the best record in baseball at 55-31 and got a warm ovation from the crowd of 53,383 as they walked off the field after the win.
Posada hit a long homer into the Yankees’ bullpen in left-center in the second inning, just his second home run since June 1.
The Yankees got six consecutive two-out hits in the third off former NBA player Mark Hendrickson (6-7) to take a 5-0 lead.
Matsui and Sheffield each finished with three of New York’s 15 hits.
Mussina has a sore elbow, so Hernandez was scratched from his scheduled rehabilitation start Saturday for Triple-A Columbus to enable him to travel to New York.
Hernandez, believed to be 38, spent last year on Montreal’s disabled list, missing the entire season after getting hurt in spring training.
The right-hander had shoulder surgery in May 2003 to repair a small tear in his rotator cuff. He returned to the Yankees in March, signing a $500,000, one-year contract.
After defecting from Cuba, Hernandez joined the Yankees for the 1998 season and helped them to three straight World Series titles and four AL pennants in five years. He went 9-3 with a 2.51 ERA in the postseason, winning the 1999 AL championship series MVP Award.
Clark connected for a two-run shot off Jorge Sosa in the sixth. Matsui hit his 17th home run off Lance Carter in the seventh, surpassing his total from last season, his first in the majors after coming over from Japan.
Clark followed with his 10th of the year, giving him his second multihomer game in eight days and 15 in his career.
Posada smacked hard into the padded railing in front of Tampa Bay’s dugout while chasing a foul popup in the third. He came out following his RBI singlein the bottom of the inning, and X-rays were negative.
Hernandez improved to 9-3 lifetime against Tampa Bay. His contract includes bonuses of $3,000 per day on the active roster, $45,000 per start and $12,500 per relief appearance. … Hendrickson, who pitched a rain-shortened shutout at Yankee Stadium last year for Toronto, dropped to 0-3 in three startsagainst New York this season.