There's a reason why the New York Yankees are known as the Bronx Bombers and so far this season they have lived up to the moniker.
The Yankees have left the ballpark a major league-best 90 times this season and the home run success has them on the doorstep of a three-game sweep of the New York Mets. The "Subway Series" will conclude this afternoon at Yankee Stadium, where the Bombers are coming off their second straight win.
One day after Robinson Cano left the yard twice and contributed in a back-to- back-to-back barrage with Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones, Mark Teixeira belted a clutch two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth inning and Curtis Granderson added an insurance homer in the eighth for a 4-2 triumph.
"This is a home run-hitting team," Teixeira said on the club's website. "We have guys up and down the lineup that have hit home runs. We have guys that have been doing it for a long time."
New York owns 12 home runs in the last six games and is 33-13 when hitting at least one this season, 25-5 when going deep two or more times and 0-12 when failing to touch all the bases.
Yankees starter Phil Hughes earned the win with 6 1/3 innings of work. He allowed two runs and six hits, including a pair of homers, with six strikeouts and two walks. Rafael Soriano later nailed down his ninth save of the season.
"He battled his rear end off," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "He made some big pitches when he had to. I was pleased with his performance. If you look, he gave up two solo shots."
Derek Jeter led off the first inning with a single, went to second on a balk and scored on Alex Rodriguez's base hit to pass Ted Williams for 17th place on the all-time runs list with No. 1,800. The Yankees have won 12 of their last 16 games and are 4-1 on a six-game homestand. They moved a season-high eight games over .500 and remained one-half game behind Tampa Bay for first in the AL East. Baltimore is only a game back in the division.
New York will hit the road to Atlanta and Washington after today's game, and is in the midst of playing 15 straight against NL East opponents.
The Yankees will send veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte to the mound this afternoon for his sixth start of the season. Pettitte has won three of his last four starts and tossed 7 1/3 shutout innings of two-hit ball in Tuesday's 7-0 blanking of Tampa Bay. He also fanned a season-high 10 batters.
Pettitte, who is 3-2 in five starts with a 2.78 earned run average, is 3-1 in four starts in the Bronx this season. He will make his 20th career start against the Mets and owns an 8-5 record to go along with a 3.69 ERA through the first 19 appearances. Pettitte, of course, is back in the fold following his retirement in 2011.
The Mets will try to avoid being swept in three games at Yankee Stadium since 2003 and have dropped five of six since winning three in a row.
David Wright and Omar Quintanilla hit solo homers last night for the Mets, who are now 3 1/2 games behind the Nationals for the NL East lead. Mets starter Dillon Gee lost for the first time in five starts after allowing three runs on five hits and three walks in seven innings. He struck out five batters and gave up the big blast to Teixeira.
"I would throw that pitch again," said Gee. "Obviously, just a little better. It stayed up just enough for him."
The Mets are 1-4 on a nine-game road trip and will resume the trek at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Wright is tied with Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd for the most home runs by a Met against the Yankees with eight. The third baseman is also second in the majors with a .455 on-base percentage and fourth with a .355 batting average.
Mets outfielder Lucas Duda has reached base safely in his last 13 games. The Mets are 17-8 in day games this season -- the second-best win total in the majors behind San Francisco's 18 victories in matinee affairs.
Striking out a career-high 10 batters probably gave Jon Niese the accelerated heartbeat he experienced in a 6-1 win over St. Louis on Sunday. Niese, who has been cleared by doctors to continue action, gets the nod today. He fired six shutout innings and scattered six hits against the Cardinals to improve to 4-2 in 11 starts and lower his ERA to 4.11. Niese threw 96 pitches.
"It's one of those things where I threw six solid, scoreless innings," Niese said after the game. "I kept feeling the heart racing at times. I felt that was enough. I didn't want to do anything stupid, but I feel fine now and that's a good sign."
Niese is 2-0 in his last three starts and owns a 2-2 mark in six road bouts this season. The lefty faced the Yankees for the first time last July 1 in a 5-1 defeat and absorbed the loss after allowing three runs and nine hits in six innings of work.
Mets starters are 10-4 with a 2.44 ERA in the last 18 starts, dating back to May 22.
The Yankees were 4-2 versus the Mets a year ago. The Bronx Bombers are 8-2-6 in the 16 season series with the Mets since interleague action started in 1997 and have the best winning percentage at 160-109 all-time against the NL.