Bernie Williams offered an interesting perspective on a hitter's mindset after his two home runs and five runs batted in helped the New York Yankees to an 8-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
The Yankees had a four-homer day with Chuck Knoblauch opening the game by going long for the third time in a week and Chili Davis hitting his 16th of the season. New York rattled seven extra-base hits to make it easy for Hideki Irabu, who allowed seven hits and struck out eight Blue Jays in seven innings.
Williams' homers were the centerpieces of New York's longball attack. His three-run shot capped a four-run first inning and his two-run homer in the sixth provided some breathing room.
"It was certainly a great day," he said. "They were two good pitches and I had good swings on them."
Williams has been nursing a sore shoulder. "I'm playing through it," he said. "There's no way I want any excuses. If I can help, I'd rather be out there. Part of the ability of a player is to be able to play in pain. It's there. I try not to think about it and play the way I can."
The Yankees' early outburst came against Kelvim Escobar (9-8), who struck out the side after New York went up 4-0.
"I didn't have any arm speed," he said. "My arm felt kind of tired. I don't know why."
Toronto manager JiFregosi said Escobar's performance was puzzling.
"He struggled early," Fregosi said. "He didn't throw the ball hard. Then it looked like he got it together when he struck out the side. The next inning, he just didn't have it. There are going to be inconsistencies with young pitchers."
The Yankees can relate to that.
Irabu (9-3), the AL pitcher of the month for July, improved to 8-0 in his last 12 starts and has been New York's most consistent pitcher lately after nearly being cut from the team in spring training.
Manager Joe Torre reflected on Irabu's spotty performance last season and the way he has overcome his spring problems.
"It's a cultural difference," he said. "It takes a little time. He's learned what we require. He's gotten himself in good shape. He's a better pitcher than he's been in the past."
Irabu said the difference was his in his approach.
"If it's a 3-and-0 count, I keep in mind that it's still a battle, pitch-by-pitch and concentrate," he said.
Knoblauch opened the game with his ninth home run. It was the third time in the last six games that he has gotten the Yankees started with a first-inning homer.
O'Neill's two-out double scored Scott Brosius, who had walked leading off the second. Escobar didn't make it out of the inning, allowing five runs on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks. It was the shortest outing of his major league career.
Davis opened the third against reliever Paul Spoljaric with his 16th homer, a shot into the second deck in right field.
In the fourth, Toronto's David Segui opened with a single and was forced when first baseman Tino Martinez made a brilliant stop on a shot by Tony Fernandez and threw to second base from his knees. But Darrin Fletcher and Jacob Brumfield followed with two-out singles, scoring Fernandez.
Williams' second homer came against reliever Roy Halladay in the sixth following a walk to Jeter.
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