One thing the Yankees still can't do ...

June, 15, 2012
6/15/12
11:48
PM ET
... is win a game without hitting a home run. And on Friday night, they were soooo close!

Actually, undoubtedly they can win without hitting one out of the park, because had Curtis Granderson not jumped on Tom Gorzelanny's 3-1 fastball with two out in the ninth and deposited it in the Nationals' bullpen, they still would have won this one. They just haven't done it yet this season.

In every one of their 38 victories, the Yankees, who lead baseball with 97 homers, have hit at least one long ball, a stat which rightly or wrongly has made their failure to hit well with runners in scoring position seem that much more prominent.

But until Granderson's shot -- his 20th of the season -- the Yankees' 7-2 victory over the Nationals was accomplished with some unusually timely hitting (4-for-8 w/RISP and 1-for-1 with the bases loaded) and some unusually sloppy defense by the Nats.

The Yankees scored two runs in the third inning on RBI singles by Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher , and four more in the seventh on, believe it or not, a bases-loaded single by Derek Jeter, which turned into two runs when Nats shortstop Ian Desmond threw the ball away. Then Granderson followed with a two-run double to left.

The entire inning was a perfect example of hitting in the clutch, and the perfect answer to those of us who have been asking all season long if the Yankees are too reliant on the long ball.

"I don't care as long as we win them," Joe Girardi said. "A homer is a hit too, you know that? Eventually everyone will believe that."

Just as everyone will eventually believe the Yankees can actually win a game without one. That is, if they ever do.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.285 14 64 64
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 20
RBIJ. Ellsbury 64
RB. Gardner 81
OPSB. Gardner .783
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAH. Kuroda 3.88
SOM. Tanaka 135