Saturday, April 12, 2014

Comforts of homers: McCann powers win over Sox

NEW YORK -- It was a cold winter afternoon when Brian McCann took on a private tour of Yankee Stadium, hearing a sales pitch from team executives who wanted to fit him for pinstripes. As McCann walked the hallways that day, he couldn't help but think about what the cozy right-field dimensions might do for his power numbers.

It took a little longer than McCann might have anticipated, but the slugging catcher is on the board with his first home runs as a Yankee. McCann homered twice, going back-to-back with Alfonso Soriano once, and Carlos Beltran also cleared the wall as the Yankees thumped the Red Sox, 7-4, on a sunny Saturday in the Bronx.

The homers were part of a six-run pounding that the Yankees unloaded on Boston starter John Lackey, who permitted 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings, giving Hiroki Kuroda some welcome run support as the Yankees right-hander improved to 2-1 this season.

A four-run Yankees cushion was halved in the seventh inning, as Mike Carp took advantage of the shifted infield defense to deliver a two-run single on a ground ball through the vacated shortstop hole.

Beltran was the first to clear the fences on a day when the heart of the Yanks' order produced and the ball was jumping. Beltran hit a first-inning two-run homer to right field, his second. In the fourth, McCann's first shot went into the second deck in right field.

It was immediately followed by Soriano's homer to right field, his third. The homers were the first back-to-back blasts by Yankees hitters since Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira did it last June 6 against the Mariners.

McCann, who entered the day with just six singles in 37 at-bats, sent a two-run shot into the right-field bullpen off Lackey in the sixth inning. Lackey walked none and struck out six in the outing, and he was visibly frustrated by his performance.

The big cushion was a change of pace for Kuroda, who has averaged the lowest run support in the American League since the beginning of the 2013. Kuroda held the Red Sox to just A.J. Pierzynski's second-inning, two-run homer over the first six innings before Boston mounted a rally to chase him in the seventh.

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