Jorge Posada said several teammates joked with him before he caught his first game in nearly a month. No one needed to say a thing when it was his turn to bat with the bases loaded in the fifth inning.
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Posada hit a grand slam for the second straight day, Robinson Cano connected for his 100th career homer and the New York Yankees completed a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros with a 9-5 win Sunday.
"To be in the position to hit two grand slams is just amazing,” Posada said. "A lot of players were telling me where to go and stuff like that, but it was fun to be back there.”
Shortly after their victory, the Yankees tied Tampa Bay for first place in the AL East when the Rays lost to Florida 6-1. The Rays had sole possession of first for 51 days.
Catching for the first time since he broke his foot May 19, Posada, who came off the disabled list June 2, connected for his ninth grand slam after the Astros walked the bases loaded with two outs for the second inning in a row. Ramiro Pena, subbing for injured Alex Rodriguez, followed the walks by Brian Moehler (0-3) in the fourth with a two-run single to back Phil Hughes, who struggled when the rain started in the sixth.
Posada walked in his first two plate appearances. As the designated hitter and batting right-handed on Saturday, he hit his first grand slam since 2004. On Sunday, Posada was batting from the left side when he faced reliever Casey Daigle. Posada drove a 2-0 pitch to a similar spot in right-center as his slam landed Saturday, giving New York a 7-1 lead.
The last Yankee to hit grand slams in consecutive games was catcher Bill Dickey in 1937, according to STATS LLC. The last player to do it in the big leagues was Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran on July 16 and 18, 2006.
Posada was replaced by Francisco Cervelli in the ninth inning and Posada said his foot "got tired.”
"It was not about soreness,” he said.
Posada said he would continue treating the foot in the same manner and hopes to be ready to face Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night after the team has a day off Monday.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, however, said Posada was sore but not in the same spot where he broke the foot. The team will wait to see how Posada responds Monday before thinking about his next catching appearance.
A steady drizzle started soon after Posada’s big hit and the Astros scored four times with two outs in the sixth against Hughes (9-1). Tommy Manzella drove in two runs with a single off shortstop Derek Jeter’s glove to end a 10-pitch at-bat, and Kevin Cash followed with a two-run shot that ended Hughes’ day.
Hughes won his fourth straight start but matched his season high for runs allowed, five. He walked two and struck out six.
New York scored twice in the bottom half on RBI singles by Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner for a 9-5 lead.
"Tommy came up with the big hit, then I hit the home run and you’re thinking, ‘Hey, a bloop and a blast and we could get in it,’ and they answered,” Cash said. "That makes it hard because every time you scored they’d pull away again.”
Batting in A-Rod’s No. 4 spot while the third baseman rested his sore hip for the third consecutive day, Cano hit his 13th homer in the fourth. That tied the score 1-all and helped the Yankees win their eighth straight at home, matching their longest winning streak at the second-year ballpark.
With his parents, who flew in from Houston on a redeye flight, watching from the stands, Yankees right fielder Chad Huffman led off the third with an infield single in his first big-league at-bat. Huffman was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before the game to replace Marcus Thames, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.
"I was just trying to calm myself down. … Kind of got out in front, got lucky a little bit but that’s part of it,” Huffman said of his first hit. "I looked up at the Jumbotron and saw my family jumping up and down. It was a good feeling.”
Huffman reached base three times but was thrown out at third in the fourth to end a rally.
Astros pitchers walked 10.
"That definitely was a killer,” manager Brad Mills said. "We allowed those guys to get on and you can’t do that with a good hitting lineup. They’re going to hurt you. That was our kind of Achillies’ today.”
Moehler lost his sixth straight, dating to Sept. 1. He gave up four runs on five walks and four hits in 4 2-3 innings.
NOTES: Pena made a diving catch of Michael Bourn’s hot shot down the line while he was playing on the infield grass. … Slumping 1B Lance Berkman was not in the Astros’ lineup. Sensing Berkman’s frustration, Mills wanted to give the slugger two days off. Houston has an off day Monday.