For the Yankees, the themes felt familiar tonight. Another one run game decided by which team could get the big hit. Another series of wasted scoring opportunities in the early innings that loomed large in the end. Another strong pitching performance wasted on a couple of bad pitches at a bad time.
“I don’t think we played poorly, it was just those close games,” Derek Jeter said. “Hopefully we find ways to get it done. I don’t think it’s that we’re playing bad.”
The bottom line is that the Yankees have lost five of six on the road, and they’re two late-inning home runs away from a 10-game losing streak. Most of the loses have felt a lot like this one.
The Yankees had the bases loaded with one out in the first inning, and settled for only one run. They stranded five runners in the next five innings. “You had a feeling that would come back to haunt us right there,” Alex Rodriguez said.
The Yankees had Phil Hughes mixing pitches and throwing strikes, but he made two mistakes that Dan Johnson hit for two-run home runs. “I yanked a fastball down and in both times,” Hughes said. “For the most part I executed my pitches to the other guys, and he was the one that I didn’t.”
It all felt familiar. It felt like the 32 stranded base runners on Friday and Saturday. It felt like Sergio Mitre making the mistake to Reid Brignac on Monday. It felt like Ivan Nova cruising and then falling apart on Tuesday.
“We could very easily have won five of these games,” Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes you get the big hit and sometimes you don’t, and we didn’t seem to get the big hit. I thought we played fairly well, even thought we lost five of six. It sounds kind of funny, but we had a chance to win five of six too.”
Here’s Jeter’s postgame. He starts by talking about the state of the team, then goes into the hit-by-pitch that never happened.
• The two home run pitches seemed to be the exact same. They weren’t supposed to be. The first was supposed to be a fastball up and in, the second a fastball down and away. “Just try to execute a pitch and it didn’t go where I wanted it to,” Hughes said.
• Hughes has talked about throwing his fastball too often, but this time he wasn’t second guessing himself after the home runs. He said the problem was location, not pitch selection. “He was mixing his pitches extremely well,” Girardi said. “I thought he threw more changeups tonight than he threw all year. I thought he mixed his pitches extremely well, but you can’t throw offspeed all the time.”
• Girardi said he never thought about taking Hughes out against Joyce or Johnson in the seventh inning. “His pitch count was low,” Girardi said. “He got two quick outs (against) two pretty good hitters that he got out. It wasn’t a thought of mine.” Girardi started the inning planning to let Hughes pitch through Carlos Pena.
• Girardi said he was legitimately worried about Jeter when he came running out of the dugout after the hit by pitch. Girardi thought it got him on the hand. Asked what he thought of Jeter’s free pass, Girardi said. “It’s your job to get on base any way you can.”
• The Yankees seem to have missed Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher here in Tampa Bay. “Those are two guys that are experienced in our lineup that we don’t have,” Girardi said. “Our lineup looks a little bit different with those two in there. We didn’t have them, and you have to find a way to overcome that.”
• Joe Maddon on his ejection: “I was just trying to present logic because none of them could tell me that they knew the ball had hit his hand, but everybody could have told me that the ball did hit the bat. So for me, it was a ground ball back to the pitcher. I thought that was pretty obvious.”
• Maddon on Jeter: “If our guys did it, I would have applauded that too. It’s a great performance on his part. It’s ust a matter of it’s very unfortunate in that moment.”
• All three games this series were decided by one run.
• On his home run, Curtis Granderson scored the 500th run of his career.
• Forgot to mention this pregame, but when Girardi was asked whether Royce Ring would be the last of the September call-ups, he hesitated. Then he said, “Don’t write that.” Sounds like there’s a good chance someone else will be here eventually. Andrew Brackman?
Associated Press photos of the Yankees bench, Rodriguez and Robinson Cano