Innings kept going by, and hitter after hitter kept coming back to the Yankees dugout without a hit.
“With this offense you feel like you can still score runs,” Joe Girardi said. “If you get them early you get them early, if you get them late, you get them late.”
The Yankees didn’t get them, and two runs were too many to beat the White Sox. Granted, when a team gets shutout and nearly no-hit, everything else seems secondary, but it’s worth looking at each of the White Sox runs.
Fourth inning, leadoff double
Run scored two batters later after back-to-back routine ground balls
The play that mattered was the leadoff double to Carlos Quentin. Charging from center field, Curtis Granderson tried to make a diving catch. The ball got past him, turning a single into a double. Based on the way the inning played out, the run wouldn’t have scored without that free base.
“The only thing that could have been different would have been if I would have caught it, then he would have been off the bases,” Granderson said. “That would have been the only way guaranteeing he wasn’t going to come around to score. Early in the game, I like taking the risk. You look at that time and go, OK, we’re going to have some more opportunities to score offensively.”
Said Burnett: “It’s an aggressive play. I’d rather our guys be aggressive out there than not. Nine out of 10 times, he comes in and catches that ball. We’ve all seen it. If I make a few pitches after that, maybe it’s a different story.”
Burnett’s wrong about making pitches — he got nothing but routine outs after the double — and I’m sure he was trying just not to push the blame. That said, I actually tend to agree with Granderson. I think it’s worth taking a shot on that ball.
Ninth inning, leadoff single
Run scored two batters later after a fielder’s choice, stolen base and RBI single
Play that mattered was the leadoff single, a routine popup that landed just behind the mound. Rafael Soriano pointed to it but never went after it. Derek Jeter charged, but couldn’t get there. It’s not unusual for a pitcher to defer to infielders on a play like that, and both Jeter and Russell Martin called it a ball that just happened to be hit to the right spot. Martin said it was, “just high enough for the pitcher to think an infielder was going to get there.”
“I don’t think Jeet could have got to it,” Girardi said. “I don’t think (Alex Rodriguez) could have. We encourage our pitchers to go after it, and sometimes pitchers just don’t. It’s on the other side of the ball. It’s a pretty well placed soft popup. Sori is probably the only guy that could have got it, and I’m not sure he would have got it either.”
Said Soriano: “You think that I could catch that? I don’t think so. I thought somebody would be there. I thought Jeter or Alex was going to catch it. It happens. We’ll be fine. Come back and get the ground ball double play. I’m fine with that.”
To me, that play is on Soriano. I have little doubt he could have gotten there. I get that pitchers are used to giving that play to their infielders, but at some point you’d think Soriano would attempt to make a play.
• Phil Hughes said he passed a strength test with Dr. Ahmad, but obviously the Yankees have to check him out at this point. “The (strengthening) program didn’t seem to work,” Girardi said. “Then we go get an MRI. He still says he’s not experiencing pain.”
• Martin said Burnett “battled” most of the night, and Burnett called it a “grind.” His fastball had good life and he was able to spot it, but Burnett didn’t seem overly pleased with his changeup and curveball. Still, he gave the Yankees eight good innings. Burnett said he was especially happy to finally work deep into a game. “I’m getting there,” he said. “I’m definitely taking big steps forward.”
• Wouldn’t be a Burnett start without him praising Martin’s work behind the plate. “He blocks everything, which makes me want to throw (the curveball) again,” Burnett said. “I told him, ‘If you block one, I’m going to throw one five feet shorter to see how good you are.’ He’s good back there. He keeps me in the game, he knows my personality and it’s fun to watch him back there.”
• Granderson said he went to Burnett after the fourth-inning double and said he was going to try to score a run for him to get that one back. “I just couldn’t get myself around,” Granderson said.
• The Yankees said all the things you’d probably expect about Phil Humber. He mixed pitches. Kept hitters off balance. Stayed ahead in the count. “The way he threw today, even if we faced him before, it was a tough day,” Jeter said. “You tip your hat to him. He didn’t fall behind too many guys. We had a couple of guys on there, but he was getting a lot of ground balls, especially when he needed it.”
• Girardi said Soriano was 93-94 mph with his fastball, and this was the first time Girardi could remember seeing Soriano at 94 this season. Girardi was happy with how well Soriano pitched. Soriano said he felt fine.
• Robinson Cano’s 13-game hitting streak came to an end, but Rodriguez has now reached base in all 16 games he’s played this season. He’s hit safely in 12 of them.
• This was the third time the Yankees had been held to three hits or less at the current Yankee Stadium. They didn’t reach third base tonight and certainly didn’t hit a home run.
• It wasn’t brought up at all postgame — because it ultimately didn’t matter much — but Girardi used three-fourths of his bench at once in the eighth inning. He pinch hit Andruw Jones for Brett Gardner, then hit Eric Chavez for Jones, then pinch ran Eduardo Nunez for Chavez. The White Sox had switched from a left-handed reliever to a right-handed reliever after Jones entered the game, which is why Girardi turned to Chavez without Jones actually getting an at-bat. Nunez played left field in the ninth.
• Mariano Rivera? “I wouldn’t have used him,” Girardi said.
Associated Press photos