- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2009

NEW YORK | Nick Swisher is walking around in a mohawk. A.J. Burnett has been pelting teammates with whipped cream pies. Derek Jeter sat on the jury in Kangaroo Court.

So much for the straight-laced pinstripes of old.

Shedding their corporate image, the New York Yankees are reveling in this winning streak with a childlike enthusiasm.

“It’s been a great run for us,” Swisher said. “I think having fun creates winning.”

Swisher hit the first of three consecutive homers that sent Phil Hughes and the Yankees to their eighth straight victory Wednesday night, an 11-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera also hit solo shots to right field in the second inning against starter Jeremy Guthrie (3-4) - all with two strikes.

Cano had three hits and three RBI, and Mark Teixeira hit a run-scoring double off the center-field fence for the Yankees, who are on their longest winning streak since taking eight in a row last July. New York broke it open with a six-run eighth that included Jeter’s two-run double off the top of the right-field wall.

“I liked a little bit of everything,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Nearly four hours before the game, the Yankees held a kangaroo court, something veteran Andy Pettitte said the team hadn’t done since 1995, when Wade Boggs was the sitting judge.

Mariano Rivera was on the bench this time, with Jeter, Burnett and Johnny Damon on the jury.

In a fun ritual that’s common practice for many teams - though not the buttoned-up Yankees - players are razzed and fined by teammates for all sorts of small transgressions from arriving late to wearing an ugly outfit.

“I took an absolute beating,” Alex Rodriguez said before leaving the clubhouse with his young daughter in his arms. “I think I just barely survived.”

Hughes (2-2) struck out a career-high nine in five innings, limiting a Baltimore lineup that tagged him for eight runs and eight hits in 1 2/3 innings May 9.

It was an important start for the 22-year-old right-hander, whose big league future is uncertain because Chien-Ming Wang appears close to coming off the disabled list and rejoining the rotation.

Before the game, Girardi said Wang’s timetable would be determined solely by his health and sharpness, not Hughes’ performance. But this outing should only boost confidence in Hughes, who had plenty of zip on a riding fastball that was particularly effective up in the zone.

“I feel like I can compete at this level and get a lot of guys out as well,” Hughes said. “So it’s a good dilemma for them to have.”

Alfredo Aceves followed Hughes with two scoreless innings, Phil Coke recorded two outs and Rivera got four for his eighth save in nine chances.

Rivera gave up a solo homer to Nolan Reimold in the ninth, his first in the majors.

The Yankees broke loose against Baltimore’s bullpen in the eighth. Cano and Cabrera each had an RBI single during the burst.

“We just couldn’t stay away from the big inning,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

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