It was the return, for one game, of the Bronx Bombers as Mark Teixeira (grand slam) and Travis Hafner (solo shot) powered the Yankees past Cleveland on a night when Andy Pettitte didn't have it and the Yankees fielded a bizarre lineup that included Lyle Overbay in right field.
What it means: That with the big bad Mets and Red Sox out of town, the Yankees can get back to the business of winning. Their 7-4 victory over the Indians on Monday night was only their second victory in their past eight games, but with Boston idle, the win brought them a half-game closer to the top of the American League East; they are now 2 1/2 games out.
Pronks Cheer: Hafner, who had not hit a home run since May 20 and was 1-of-his-previous-22, launched a 2-2 pitch into the right-field seats with one out in the seventh, giving the Yankees a 7-4 lead and launching Indians starter Justin Masterson out of the game. It was Hafner's ninth homer of the season and 26th RBI. Masterson allowed just five hits, but two were homers, accounting for five of the seven runs he was charged with.
Haffy Birthday: Hafner's ninth home run was a gift to himself on the occasion of his 36th birthday.
Score four: Teixeira made his first home run of the season a big one, lining Masterson's first pitch into the right-field seats with the bases loaded and one out in the third. Tex's eighth career grand slam -- also the Yankees' first of the season -- gave Pettitte a 4-1 lead to work with.
Justin the way: Masterson probably cost himself a run in the sixth inning when, after Brett Gardner singled sharply up the middle with runners on second and third, the Indians pitcher inexplicably cut off CF Michael Bourn's throw home, which looked as if it would have nailed Austin Romine, trying to score from second, at the plate. Judging by the conversation between Masterson and Yan Gomes, Gomes thought so, too. The play gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead.
Through the trap door: Andy Pettitte's return from a trapezius strain ended badly, with an unceremonious exit in the midst of a three-run fifth inning that ate up the Yankees' 4-1 lead. Pettitte, who last pitched May 16, had command problems from the start but unraveled quickly after three Indians scored a run on a very unusual sacrifice fly (see below) and a delay while Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was helped off the field after injuring an ankle running to first. Pettitte's next 10 pitches were out of the strike zone, including a wild pitch that moved a runner to third, and his night ended on Carlos Santana's sharply hit double off David Adams' glove that scored two runs. Pettitte's line was ugly -- 4 2/3 IP, 7H, 4ER, 3BBs, 3K's and 2 WPs.
Oh, what a relief: Pettitte was followed by a parade of four relievers -- Shawn Kelley, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera -- and a string of zeroes as the bullpen shut down the Indians for the final 4 1/3 innings, allowing no hits and just two walks until Bourn led off the ninth with a single off Rivera. But Rivera got the next three outs to earn his 19th save in 20 opportunities this season. Kelley (1 2/3 IP, 1H, 2K's) got the win.
Heads-up: The Indians got their second run of the game on the rarely seen sac fly to the second baseman. When Robinson Cano had to field Mike Aviles' pop fly in short center with his back to home plate, Drew Stubbs alertly took off from third as Cano made the catch, and Stubbs cleanly beat the throw home.
Lyle-licious: From his up-close-and-personal view in right, Overbay borrowed Nick Swisher's act for a night, acknowledging the roll call from the Bleacher Creatures with his version of what used to be known as the Swisher Salute. Very stylish.
Sooner or later: The ball will find you, even if it took 26 batters for the ball to find Overbay. The first baseman-turned-right fielder fielded his first chance of the game in the fifth inning, easily tucking away Gomes' fly ball to shallow right to end the Indians' three-run inning.