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Usual drill, or reason to be sore?

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / May 8, 2010

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The scene in the Yankee dugout didn’t quite match the reaction of the same players after last night’s game.

There’s no question the Yankees were miffed about Josh Beckett’s sixth-inning hit-by-pitch spree, which probably cost them Robinson Cano’s services this afternoon. The already-injured Derek Jeter, who moved into second place on the Yankees’ career games played list (2,165), probably didn’t need a fastball in the back.

The Yankees are dropping fast and furious. Designated hitter Nick Johnson left the game early when he hurt his right wrist while swinging, and he’ll be examined today in New York. In all likelihood he’ll go on the disabled list.

He wasn’t the victim of a Beckett misfire, but Cano and Jeter were. Afterward, the Yankees had no angry words about the Red Sox starter. However, they certainly were puzzled.

“You’re going to protect your own guys,’’ said manager Joe Girardi, when asked about his players standing at the front of the dugout and shouting at Beckett. “You’re going to stand up for your own guys. That’s the nature of the competition and the game. Nothing got out of hand. But our guys are going to protect our guys, we care about each other.’’

The Yankees broke things open in their 10-3 win with a six-run sixth against Beckett, who had one of the more bizarre outings in recent memory (including nine earned runs in 5 1/3 innings). The uprising may prove costly for the Yankees, though, if Cano misses extended time because of a Beckett pitch that hit the inside of his left knee.

“I know he was trying to throw inside and the first one was inside and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s part of the game,’’ said Cano.

Two Yankees who didn’t play, CC Sabathia and Jorge Posada, and one who did, Alex Rodriguez, stood on the front step of the dugout along with some teammates and had some words for Beckett. The Sox starter seemed to reciprocate.

Sabathia, today’s starter, said, “I have no comment on that. We won the game and that’s what matters.’’

There were no warnings issued, likely because the circumstances didn’t warrant one, especially with Jeter’s hit by pitch forcing in a run. We’ll see whether Sabathia elects to take matters into his own hands today.

To a man, the Yankees said they had never seen Beckett that wild.

“He always battles even when he’s getting hit a little bit,’’ Jeter said. “It was probably one of those weird things you’ll never see again.’’

The Yankees supported young Phil Hughes with 10 runs. The righthander, who at 4-0 has become one of their best starters, matched zeroes with Beckett over the first three innings. After Nick Swisher’s three-run homer in the fourth, it seemed to go downhill for Beckett.

“It was really big because we were just having a hard time putting the ball in play for a while there,’’ said Girardi. “And then Swish gets a big hit. The guys get on before him, Tex walks, Alex singles. Swish gets a huge hit for us, and then we kind of broke it open.’’

Two innings later, Beckett totally unraveled and the Yankees took advantage, not to mention some lumps.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that and it’s a guy that has pitched at an extremely high level for a long time. He just seemed to lose command,’’ said Girardi. “It’s unfortunate for us in the sense that we got a couple of guys hurt. [Cano’s] day-to-day but he’s probably going to be pretty sore tomorrow.

“Obviously when the game’s still tight you’re not going to hit people with the bases loaded on purpose. He just lost his command and it’s not something you see very often. I don’t ever remember seeing it, but I mean, sometimes things go a little haywire.’’

Cano tried to stay in the game, but the more he tried to shake it off the worse it felt. He soon came out for a pinch runner.

The Yankees had a tough week of injuries. Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Posada are nursing minor maladies. Curtis Granderson is on the DL, likely to be joined by Johnson. Girardi is probably going to have to manage his old guard a little closer to the vest and give them more time to heal.

“It’s frustrating,’’ Girardi said. “But no one’s going to feel sorry for yourself and our guys, so we just keep plugging along and just keep playing hard. Eventually we’ll get everyone back, and other teams are going to go through it, too.’’

Through all the injuries the Yankees continue to succeed. Last night was their fifth straight win and eighth in nine games.

“Starting pitching has been outstanding [cumulative 17-4 with a 3.15 ERA] and guys are contributing from all over the lineup and getting big hits. And that’s how you do it,’’ said Girardi. “As I’ve said all along, you can’t expect two or three guys to score all your runs all year long. Everyone is contributing.’’

Last night the Yankees survived an out-of-control Beckett, got mad, and then were content to walk away with the win.

We’ll see if Red Sox hitters pay the price today.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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