Notes: The worst road trip since the Joad family went to California has two games left. The Yankees are 2-6 and have been outscored 49-31. … Joe Girardi is 141-140 as a manager. … The Yankees start the day nine games behind Tampa and five games out in the wildcard. … Hey, the leading hitter in the AL is playing.
MIGHTY MOOSE: Mike Mussina is 22-6, 3.06 in 32 career starts against Minnesota.
GUESS WHO’S BACK: Damon is 13 of 22 on the trip with five runs scored and four RBI.
NOT INTO THE GROOVE: Alex Rodriguez is 5 for 26 on the trip with two RBI and five GIDPs.
Back later with updates.
HANK SAYS WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR: Hank Steinbrenner has emerged from seclusion. Here are his comments to the AP in Tampa.
â€œIâ€™m not writing off this season. Theyâ€™re trying hard to win. Thereâ€™s only so much you can do. Theyâ€™re not supermen. I think itâ€™s very simple, weâ€™ve been devastated by injuries. No team Iâ€™ve ever seen in baseball has been decimated like this. It would kill any team. Imagine the Red Sox without (Josh) Beckett and (Jon) Lester. Pitching is 70 percent of the game. Wang won 19 games two straight years. Chamberlain became the most dominating pitcher in baseball. You canâ€™t lose two guys like that.â€
â€œItâ€™s not making excuses. Itâ€™s reality. Thatâ€™s part of the game. Thatâ€™s clearly our problem. Weâ€™re going to win it next year. If we need to add a top veteran pitcher, weâ€™ll do that. Weâ€™ll do whatever we need to do. Next year weâ€™ll be extremely dangerous.â€
UPDATE, 7:12 p.m.: Hank’s excuses will register with a lot of fans. But I agree with a recent blog entry from Joel Sherman. Every team has had problems, including the wild-card leading Red Sox.
When the Yankees were three games out on July 26 (only 17 days ago), there were injuries then, right? They added Marte, Nady and Pudge and everybody was talking about the pennant. This collapse can’t be blamed on injuries. This team remains capable and is simply playing poorly. The injuries might have been what kept them out of the Series. But there is ample talent to make the playoffs.
UPDATE, 7:24 p.m.: Phil Hughes is underway for Scranton. 1-2-3 first inning, 12 pitches. He’s throwing 103 with a 99-mph slider and now has a knuckleball.
UPDATE, 7:48 p.m.: Here’s Joe Girardi’s pre-game:
UPDATE, 8:10 p.m.: Here’s a fascinating concept, you play the good players and they do good things. Johnny Damon hits a home run on the second pitch and it’s 1-0.
That’s an 12-game hitting streak for Damon.
UPDATE, 8:26 p.m.: Phil Hughes so far: 4 2 0 0 0 4. 57 pitches, 35 strikes.
UPDATE, 9:23 p.m.: Hughes is finished. 5.1 3 2 2 1 4. 84/50. He left with a 2-0 lead with two runners on base, having reached his pitch count. Mark Melancon then allowed two hits, leaving Hughes charged with two runs.
Meanwhile, Bobby Meacham is having another rough night at third base. Among the many things the Yankees need to address is the makeup of Girardi’s staff. Their inexperience is certainly a factor in this season.
UPDATE, 10:15 p.m.: Scott Proctor has a sore elbow that will need surgery and he may not pitch again this season. They should still try and trade Wilson Betemit back for him.
UPDATE, 10:54 p.m.: I take it all back. Betemit is awesome, even if they did just intentionally walk Cano to get to him.
Meanwhile, is it really 19-16 Boston at Fenway Park?
UPDATE, 11:10 p.m.: Unbelieveable. First blown save for Mo. Costs Mussina a win that he should have had.
Marte has been brutal. 7.1 innings, 9 hits, 9 ER.
UPDATE, 11:31 p.m.: No idea what is wrong with Jeter. He did foul a ball off his foot earlier in the game.
UPDATE, 11:42 p.m.: Jose Veras warming up for the Yankees. You really can’t like any of the options in the bullpen at this point.
UPDATE, 11:54 p.m.: There’s a woman sitting in front of the press box with a Doug Mientkiewicz Twins jersey on. He last played for the Twins in 2004.
Meanwhile I can spell Mientkiewicz without looking it up.
A-Rod is now 5 of 31 on the trip with two RBI. … Good fans here in Minnesota, not too many folks have left.
UPDATE, 12:15 a.m.: Nice work by Jose Veras. Edwar Ramirez is warming. He’ll face the top of the Minnesota order.
Meanwhile, the good people of Minnesota are fleeing the Metrodome in droves now.
UPDATE, 12:17 a.m.: OK, I’m calling a HR for Alex here.
UPDATE, 12:19 p.m.: Wow, I was right. Mark Feinsand of the Daily News is my witness. Just ask him. Not that calling a HR by a guy with so many of them makes me a genius. But still.