So much has been made of the Yankees reaction to playing an elimination game, but Joe Girardi said this afternoon that there’s also something to be said for a team trying to close out a series.
“I think there’s anxiety about it more than anything else,” Girardi said. “You feel how close you are and you want to get to that next round.”
Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez said one thing he remembers about 2004 — when the Yankees let the Red Sox make an ALCS comeback — was a feeling, even before Game 7, that the Yankees weren’t doing a good enough job closing out the series.
“We never wanted it to get to a Game 6 or a Game 7,” Rodriguez said.
Obviously there’s pressure on the Yankees, but the Rangers aren’t exactly playing with house money as it’s often portrayed. Game 7 — Cliff Lee or no Cliff Lee — is a dangerous situation for either team.
“I don’t know about momentum,” Rodriguez said. “But I did like the energy we played with (in Game 5). I thought we were enthused. There was a lot of energy. Good at-bats. I thought Jorge’s play going first to third was huge for us. It made them make a play that was probably a little uncomfortable and a bit unorthodox and it worked in our favor. I think for us, we just have to keep pushing the envelope.
“We’re here to fight, not receive any blows.”
• Based on whatever pregame reports he heard, Girardi doesn’t expect rain to be a factor tonight. “I don’t think it’s supposed to rain,” he said. “Texas thunderstorms are brief and hard anyway.”
• Girardi said he never seriously considered anyone but Marcus Thames at DH for tonight. “Marcus has been the guy that has DHed for us a lot,” Girardi said. “We have seen Marcus hit well off right-handers and left-handers, so Marcus was our guy.”
• The only pitcher not in the bullpen for tonight’s game is Andy Pettitte, and Girardi said it’s not completely off the table that Pettitte might go down there at some point. Of course, that would require a pretty extreme situation.
• Any hurt feelings by sending starters into the bullpen this time of year? “I don’t think so,” Girardi said. “I think everyone understands CC’s talent level, and the starters that are at this level this time of year are extremely talented. (Roy) Oswalt threw out of the bullpen (in the NLCS). I don’t think that was a slap on the Phillies bullpen. He’s a pretty darn good pitcher.”
• It’s worth noting that if CC Sabathia pitches tonight, he would be lined up to start Game 1 of the World Series on four days rest. “I like how you think,” Girardi said.
• The Yankees stuck with Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano batting second and third, even though it leaves back-to-back lefties against a bullpen full of left-handed relievers. “We talked about (splitting them),” Girardi said. “The thing is, Grandy has swung the bat great throughout the playoffs, and he’s also hit left-handers. Look at our top two guys offensively in the playoffs and it’s been Robinson and Granderson. We try to get them as many at-bats as we can.”
• Lance Berkman has more career at-bats against Colby Lewis than any of the other Yankees. That was part of the thinking behind batting him fifth and Nick Swisher sixth. Mostly, though: “Berky had some really, really good at-bats against this guy,” Girardi said. “He’s had good at-bats for us in the postseason.”
• Speaking of Lewis, the Yankees get a second chance against him tonight. “We knew he had good breaking stuff. We knew that he sunk it (and) he cut it,” Girardi said. “The biggest thing they’ve learned is that now they’ve seen his pitches and they have an idea what he’s going to do against each individual guy.”
• What did Phil Hughes learn from Game 2? “It’s important to locate against a very dangerous team,” Girardi said, laughing at the obviousness of his statement. “Even in a day when we shut them down, they had 13 hits. The important thing is what you do with runners in scoring position.”
• Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera are available for multiple innings, but, “That’s not exactly what you’d want to do,” Girardi said.
• Rangers manager Ron Washington had no problem with Nick Swisher saying yesterday that he’s excited about the possibility of facing Cliff Lee in a possible Game 7. “I think if I was sitting in his shoes and I had to face Cliff Lee, I’d probably feel the same way,” Washington said. “But, you know the game is not played with words; it’s played between the lines. And, if he can back it up, I’ll pat him on the back.”
• Girardi doesn’t expect it to rain and he said he hasn’t decided who might start tomorrow should tonight’s game be rained out. “I’ll cross that bridge when it happens,” he said.
Associated Press photos