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Winn picks right time to find power

Winn picks right time to find power

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NEW YORK -- The list of the Yankees' dangerous left-handed hitters who can beat you with one swing is as long as there is in the American League. Robinson Cano has a half-dozen homers off southpaws already. Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher are switch-hitters with more power from the left side of the batter's box. Even Brett Gardner popped one out of Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

It's safe to say that list never included Randy Winn.

In just his fourth start of 2010 -- and only his 15th at-bat of the season -- Winn gave CC Sabathia all the run support he needed against Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie with a two-out, tiebreaking three-run homer in the fourth inning of a 4-1 Yankees win.

It goes without saying that it was Winn's first long ball of the year. It was his first, in fact, since April 25, 2009 -- a span of 491 at-bats, or almost three times as long as the drought that Gardner snapped on Sunday.

"No. Yes? I think," Winn said when asked if he remembered his last home run. "Was it off Max Scherzer?"

That's the one, a mere 373 days before Monday's game, back when Winn was with the Giants.

"I'm really, really not a home run hitter," Winn said. "That felt really good. It's always nice when you can get in there and help your team win. When you're not playing every day, you have to do what you can."

The Yankees had tied the game at 1 in the fourth on a two-out RBI single from Swisher. Two batters later, Winn turned on a 1-0 fastball and launched it into the bullpen in right-center field -- over the 385-foot mark on the wall.

Not exactly a cheapie down the line.

"That was definitely a game-changer," Swisher said. "As soon as Randy hit that, it sounded like a shotgun off his bat. I couldn't be more tickled for him."

For his part, Winn said he didn't know whether it was gone off the bat, and he didn't see where it landed. His head was down, running it out. Remember, he's not a home run hitter.

"I never know when it's gone," Winn said.

Although the pitch didn't end up where Guthrie wanted it, it wasn't exactly a hanger in the middle of the plate.

"I tried to go away, and it was more inner third instead of outer third," Guthrie said. "He put a good swing on it. He had to do the work. It wasn't [an easy one]."

"That's the difference in the ballgame," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, adding that Winn will get a chance to see more action with regular center fielder Curtis Granderson on the disabled list.

Over the first month of the year, Winn's primary duty came as a late-game defensive replacement -- an occasionally difficult transition for a veteran accustomed to playing every day for a decade.

And it was yet another indication of the depth of the Bombers' order -- the one that leads the league in both on-base and slugging percentage.

"The bottom of this lineup has done an outstanding job," Winn said. "This is how you win consistently, when you get contributions up and down."

Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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