Abreu’s grand slam in 10th gives Yankees win
TORONTO (AP)—Phil Hughes will finish 2008 without a win. He still went out on a high note.
More important to the Yankees, who are looking ahead to 2009 since their postseason streak was ended, were the career-high eight innings from Hughes, who allowed two runs and five hits, walked none and struck out a season-high six.
“I really wanted to pitch well tonight,” Hughes said. “A win would have been great, but we ended up winning the ball game, which is all that really matters. It would have been nice to get rid of that goose egg in my win column, but it is what it is. I’m just happy to pitch well.”
Making just his second start since April 29 after missing much of the season with a stress fracture in his rib, Hughes kept the Blue Jays offbalance by effectively mixing his fastball and curveball.
“It’s important for him to leave knowing that he can do this,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He was right tonight.”
New York won it in the 10th against Toronto left-hander Jesse Carlson. Juan Miranda led off with a double and was replaced by pinch-runner Melky Cabrera. Chad Moeller walked and Brett Gardner advanced both runners with a sacrifice before Robinson Cano was hit on the leg, loading the bases for Abreu, who drilled a 1-0 pitch into the bullpen in right field.
It was Abreu’s 20th homer of the season, giving him eight straight seasons with 20 homers and 20 steals. He needs one more RBI to give him 100 for the sixth straight season.
“Being consistent, to me, is one of the most important things,” Abreu said.
Bobby and Barry Bonds are the only players with more 20-20 seasons than Abreu, with 10 each.
Abreu was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts before the grand slam.
“That’s the amazing thing about the game,” Girardi said. “You can have an awful day and in your last at-bat, you can have the biggest hit of the night. That’s why you have to be able to turn the page and he’s really good at doing that.”
Carlson (7-2) had not allowed a run in 14 innings.
Jose Veras (5-2) worked one inning for the win.
The Yankees scored twice in the third, thanks in part to Scutaro’s throwing error. With Gardner at first on a fielder’s choice, Cano lined a single off Toronto starter A.J. Burnett’s thigh. The ball rolled to Scutaro at shortstop and his throw to first sailed wide, moving up both runners. Xavier Nady drove in both with a two-out single to center.
Hughes had retired 18 of 20 before Toronto tied it in the seventh when Scott Rolen hit a two-out solo homer to left, his 11th.
Burnett allowed two runs—one earned—and seven hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out 11.
The right-hander can opt out of the final two years of his contract after the season, meaning this could have been his final start with Toronto. The crowd of 28,701 gave Burnett a standing ovation when manager Cito Gaston replaced him before the ninth, then called him out of the dugout for a curtain call.
Burnett said hearing the crowd cheer his name was a “storybook” moment.
“It gave me goose bumps and tears, almost at the same time,” Burnett said. “It’s great, man. They’ve been awesome all year. When they’ve booed, whether I wanted to admit or not, they deserved to. I think they realize I’ve taken a big step from who I was when I first came here.”
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who was hit by a pitch Saturday, missed his second straight start because of a sore left hand. Jeter did not take part in batting practice but could play Thursday, manager Joe Girardi said.
With New York eliminated from the postseason, regulars Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez were also held out of the starting lineup, although Damon came on as a pinch-runner in the ninth. Cody Ransom made his second straight start at shortstop, with Wilson Betemit taking over at third, Miranda playing first and Moeller starting at catcher.
New York LHP Andy Pettitte will not make his final start of the season, Saturday at Boston, because of a sore shoulder. RHP Sidney Ponson will start. … Toronto 2B Aaron Hill, out since May 29 because of a concussion, rejoined the team Wednesday and will visit a neurologist Thursday. Hill said he is symptom-free following three weeks of inactivity. … Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph attended the game.