Greetings, Brian Heyman here for Chad again today.
The magic number for the Yankees to clinch a postseason berth is three. But will the players have their champagne bash after they do or wait to see if they can wrap up the division?
“Our goal is to win the division,” Joe Girardi said, “but I’ll leave that up to them.” …
Lance Berkman seems to be heating up at the right time. He’s batting .360 since coming off the DL Sept. 1, including his two-run double off James Shields in the five-run first on Tuesday night. I spoke to him a little while ago and he said that his work with Kevin Long has really helped since his acquisition from the Astros on July 31.
“When I first came over here, my swing was pretty flawed mechanically,” Berkman said. “I’d gotten into some real bad habits. Just working and trying to correct some of that with Kevin, I just feel more comfortable. I think my swing is working better.”
Berkman also looked at that hit off Shields as a confidence booster. He had failed in a big spot against him with the bases loaded last Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
“It’s always good when you’ve had success recently,” Berkman said. “This is a game of failure. Ultimately being consistent is about trying to put those failures behind you and move on. Baseball is a sport that can snowball one way or another. You have a couple of bad at-bats, you’ve got to stop that. The way to do that is to come through like last night. Now the next time I get up there in a big situation, I’ll have a positive experience that I’m working on instead of a failure. So I think it’s important from a psychological standpoint to get a hit like that.” …
Mark Teixeira has been trying to play through the bone bruise to his right thumb and the broken little toe on his right foot since late August. He’s batting .185 with no homers in September. Before Girardi’s pregame media gathering, Teixeira told him he was feeling pretty good. But Girardi hasn’t ruled out resting him for three or four days once the Yankees clinch a postseason berth.
“I don’t think it’s the best he’s felt ever in his career, but he’s played beat up before,” Girardi said. “He played beat up last year. It can become frustrating, but I think he’s handled it extremely well. But it’s that time of year. You watch him play defense and he’s diving all over the place. He runs the bases hard. That’s part of the reason he gets beat up. …
“I think the one thing that we learned to do here is you don’t panic if Mark Teixeira doesn’t hit for a couple of weeks, because it just means that he’s probably going to start hitting a lot.” …
Girardi plans to go with a four-man rotation in the division series. But it doesn’t sound like Ivan Nova will be in that starting mix. Girardi said the promising rookie “has the least amount of experience, and I’ll leave it at that.” …
Prospects Dellin Betances and Jesus Montero haven’t arrived to work out with the team and get a taste of the big-league existence. Girardi now expects them tomorrow. …
The Rays’ pitching has really taken a turn south in this stretch drive. Over the last 16 games, the team is 6-10 with a 5.87 ERA, and the starters have a 6.80 ERA. But tonight’s starter, rookie righty Wade Davis, is on a Rays-rookie-record seven-game winning streak.
Here’s Tampa Bay’s lineup:
1. John Jaso DH
2. Ben Zobrist CF
3. Carl Crawford LF
4. Evan Longoria 3B
5. Dan Johnson 1B
6. Matt Joyce RF
7. Jason Bartlett SS
8. Reid Brignac 2B
9. Dioner Navarro C
Wade Davis P