Finding new ways to say that the Yankees aren’t playing well is becoming more difficult by the day, and the players are also at a loss for words.
The clubhouse was especially quiet after Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Texas Rangers, which dropped the Yankees to .500 for the first time since April 21. It was their tenth loss in the last 11 games and the first time that Texas left the Bronx with a sweep since 2003.
“It’s easy to say, but play better, Mark Teixeira said. “We need to play better baseball. Teams are going to go through streaks where they’re not hitting or not pitching, but we’re making way too many mental errors. We’re playing way too sloppy out there, and that’s tough to see.”
The losses also appear to be weighing Joe Girardi, who saw his team go being one of the hotter teams in baseball to one of the coldest in a matter of a week or two.
“I just walked in here. What do you want me to do?” Girardi said when asked if he feels the need to address anything with his team. “These guys have to get it done, that’s the bottom line. These are our players and they have to get it done.”
The recent skid has been a cumulative result of shaky defense, inconsistent offense and a lack of length from the starting pitchers. Chris Capuano failed to get out of the fifth inning tonight, marking the fourth time in the last six games that the Yankees’ starter hasn’t made it through five.
“My No. 1 goal going out there was to get deep into this game — take a little pressure off of the bullpen and keep our team in the game,” Capuano said. “Going 4 1/3 innings, I’m not happy with that. I’ve got to be better.”
• Jose Pirela continues to be a bit of an adventure at second base, and he didn’t do Capuano any favors in the first inning. After nearly costing the Yankees an out on the first play of the game — a throw to first that had to be challenged due to a lack of urgency on his part — he made an error on the second play. Defense, which was supposed to be a strength for the Yanks, has been more of an issue than expected. “One mental error every now-and-then is O.K., but we seem to be having two or three a night, and that’s really tough to see,” Teixeira said. “Everyone needs to step it up mentally and figure out how to play the game again.”
• With that being said, Capuano gave up eight hits in less than five innings, so it’s not exactly like he was lights out. If Masahiro Tanaka is able to return within the next week or so, Capuano’s spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy. Adam Warren would probably be the other candidate to be removed, but he’s been the better pitcher of late. “Cap has to be really fine and I think (Adam) Rosales hit a changeup out, but we made an error in the first that led to the run and Prince (Fielder) got a fastball that he hit in the gap,” Girardi said. “Then he battled pretty good after that, but his pitch count got pretty high and I decided to make a change.”
• Capuano was at 84 pitches when Girardi pulled him, a move that came right after Capuano gave up singles to Fielder and Adrian Beltre. “I felt like it was a little quick, but I’m not going to second-guess Joe,” Capuano said. “He’s got to do what he thinks he needs to do to win the game. I just need to pitch better, bottom line.”
• Capuano was asked if the pitching staff is feeling pressure to go deeper into games because of how much the bullpen has been used lately. “We absolutely do,” he said. “When you have a tough inning, like Michael (Pineda) did the other night, he did a great job of bouncing back and putting up three quick zeros. We’ve been bitten by the big inning lately and we just need to continue to battle and try to avoid those big innings.”
• Girardi went to Chasen Shreve in the fifth, who stranded the runners that he inherited and recorded two outs in the sixth before being walking Rosales and being replaced by Justin Wilson. Wilson got out of the sixth, but then gave up two runs in the seventh to give Texas some cushion. “(Wilson) is really supposed to be the guy who pitches later in the game, and I like Willy in that situation,” Girardi said. “He got out of the sixth, which I wanted him to do, and then they hit him hard in the seventh. But Willy is supposed to get those outs.”
• The Yankees scored in the first inning on Brian McCann’s two-run single, but mustered only three hits in the final eight innings. “Again tonight we scored two runs in the first and we didn’t score anymore,” Girardi said. “They said (Yovani) Gallardo started locating his cutter, which is his big pitch. It seemed like he started getting in on our lefties. He threw some curveballs early in the count that kind of kept our guys off balance, but his location got a lot better.”
• McCann was replaced in the ninth, which Girardi said was due to cramping in his foot and calf. He didn’t give much more information, but I’d be surprised if McCann plays on Monday. “He had a cramp in his foot to start out, and then it moved to his calf, and that concerns me more than the foot,” Girardi said.
• Teixeira was open about his frustration, but he also made the point that they still only trail Tampa by a game and a half. It’s true, but they’ll only continue to lose ground if they keep playing this way. “Considering where we were, yeah, you always want to be above .500,” Tex said. “But we’re still well within striking distance of first place. That’s the only thing we can take solace in, is that we haven’t dug ourselves into too big of a hole versus, if there was a really good team out there in the AL East that was lighting the standings on fire, we’d be in a big hole. So that’s the one thing we can take away from this is that if we keep fighting, we’ll be right back where we want to be.”
• Final word goes to Girardi: “Of course there is frustration in the room, but there better be frustration,” Girardi said. “We play this game to win, that’s the bottom line. But we’ve been frustrated before and guys have responded. And they need to respond.”
Associated Press photos