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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Postgame notes: Close as you can get to must-win in May

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcast on May 17, 2011 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Joe Girardi believes in the rules, but tonight he broke one of his own. In the seventh inning, Girardi turned to Joba Chamberlain, then he stuck with Chamberlain through the eighth. It was the first time this season Chamberlain had pitched three days in a row, the kind of bullpen workload Girardi usually avoids at all costs.

“It just felt like we needed to win this game,” Girardi said. “I don’t want to say it was a must-win, but it was as close as you can get to a must-win in the month of May.”

There was a sense of relief in the Yankees clubhouse tonight. Not only because the snapped a six-game losing streak, but because they played well in the process. After Alex Rodriguez hit those two home runs, something seemed to click. Suddenly the Yankees were executing the fundamentals, getting key outs and hitting with runners in scoring position. Dave Robertson pitched out of a jam, Brett Gardner laid down a perfect bunt single and Jorge Posada doubled to spark a cushion-building, two-run seventh.

“It was desperation,” Rodriguez said. “We definitely needed to win a game. We haven’t won in a while and hopefully this was the start of something good.”

Girardi said he won’t use Chamberlain tomorrow, no matter the situation. Frankly, as big as Chamberlain’s seventh-inning out was, no outs felt more must-have than Robertson’s back-to-back strikeouts in the sixth. If this game was going to turn on the Yankees, it was going to happen right there. Robertson did what he does, and he charged off the mound showing more emotion than perhaps the Yankees had ever seen from him.

“I told him,” Ivan Nova said, “that game was his game.”

Here’s Robertson.

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And here’s Rodriguez.

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• Oddly enough, Rodriguez said it was hit first at-bat — the ground out to third — that let him know his swing was in better shape. He was happy with that at-bat, and he homered in his next two at-bats. “I’ve had one good swing here, another one there, but the consistency hasn’t been there,” Rodriguez said. “Not only there (in games), but it hasn’t been there in my work. That’s one thing that Kevin and I are looking for is consistency and really start driving into my lower half. I thought my leg kick was under control for the most part and every swing I took I was happy with tonight.”

• Two hits for Posada in his return to the lineup. “Just be able to put everything away and behind you and go out there and play ball,” Posada said. “It’s one of those things that, you’re happy to be back in the lineup and it’s a good feeling.”

• You might have seen on television that Nova slammed his glove when he came out of the game. He said he was upset at himself because of his command. “I won the game which is important, because we had bad moments and lost six in a row,” he said. “My command, I don’t feel too good about that. I know I can do better than what I showed today.”

• After B.J. Upton burned A.J. Burnett by hitting a curveball for a home run last night, Robertson attacked Upton with fastballs. “I felt good with my fastball, so that’s what I was going to throw to him,” Robertson said.

• Similar story for Robertson against Casey Kotchman. “Another fastball,” he said. “Just wanted to come in a little higher, and not leave it down at the knees because I don’t want to give him a chance to drop the head on it and get it out. It turned out to be strike three, so I was pretty excited.”

• Chris Dickerson said that RBI single in the seventh felt like his first Major League hit. He felt like he could exhale a little bit when he got to first base. He also said there was some comfort getting the bunt signal in his first at-bat. “That’s easy,” he said. “Coming from the National League, I’ve always been a good bunter. As soon as I saw him (give the sign) I was like, OK, this will be easy. This will be an easy way to contribute right here, because I know I can get this down.”

• Why not go straight to Mariano Rivera in the ninth? “We had a five-run lead and I wanted to try to get three outs out of Sanit,” Girardi said. “I told him if a couple guys get on, I’m bringing Mo in. Give Mo some wiggle room if something happens. That’s just the way I did it.”

• By the way, Girardi said he checked with Chamberlain before the game to make sure he felt up to pitching if necessary. “Because he didn’t throw a lot of pitches and he’s been economical, I just felt that I had to do it,” Girardi said. He was trying to avoid using Boone Logan and Luis Ayala tonight.

• Both Nova and Girardi said pace was important for the Yankees starter. “I thought he got better in the fourth and fifth,” Girardi said. “He picked up his pace a little bit. It seemed like he was working slow the first three innings. He was getting in a lot of long counts. He was almost at 70 pitches after three innings and he got into the sixth, so I did see some improvement.”

• Strange review play on the Shoppach fly ball in the ninth. Both Brett Gardner and Girardi said they were sure it hadn’t hit the catwalk. If it did hit the catwalk, it would have been a home run.

• Robertson seemed almost embarrassed by his outburst of emotion, but Mark Feinsand suggested he should start yelling and screaming all the time. Robertson laughed at the very idea of it. “Oh yeah,” he said. “because I’m such a loud guy.”

• A different way of looking at this finally finished losing streak: “We haven’t been out there in a week to shake hands,” Girardi said.

• Phil Hughes made 45 throws today, 30 from 90 feet and 15 from closer to 110. He’ll keep doing stuff like this for the next few days and ramp things up when he gets back to New York at the end of the week. He’s been doing his normal weight training.

Associated Press photos





46 Responses to “Postgame notes: Close as you can get to must-win in May”

  1. RalphieD May 17th, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    nice to get a win

  2. BklynBigCat May 18th, 2011 at 12:00 am

    I hope A-Rod’s slump is finally over. We desperately need him and Tex to snap out of it.

  3. REZ12 May 18th, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Please continue to play Dickerson and keep Hollywood Nick on the bench

  4. stuart a May 18th, 2011 at 12:05 am

    big win. get off the schneid.

    any win is a good win. pen is short 1 good arm… need someone to take the next step…

    arod finally did soemthing good.

    2 out with 120 to go, doable….

  5. JK May 18th, 2011 at 12:07 am

    I just wish Robertson could get his bb/9 consistently under 4.00, his whip is ugly because of the walks. It’s the one thing holding him back from being an elite setup man.

  6. Pepitone May 18th, 2011 at 12:31 am

    “Please continue to play Dickerson and keep Hollywood Nick on the bench”

    But, Dickerson was born in Hollywood. So, what do we call him? Lady Ga Ga?

    One commenter yesterday said the Yankees were going to lose this game because we were throwing out our worst pitcher, and Tampa was throwing out their best.

    Maybe our “worst” is really our best.

    Long way to go folks, settle in and enjoy the roller coast ride that is, and always has been, Major League Baseball.

  7. Rich in NJ May 18th, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Most fans don’t understand a young pitcher’s development curve and the necessity of developing young pitchers, which is fine, because it’s the FO/ownership that has to have patience, not the fans.

  8. Mike_Boston May 18th, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Vin Sculley trying to say something positive about Sergio Mitre just said that a few years ago there was a movie with Jennifer Anniston filmed at Dodger Stadium and who else was pitching but him. That’s just high comedy right there.

  9. Eroc May 18th, 2011 at 12:52 am

    “It’s early, but the team needs to get it together,” co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said before Monday night’s loss to the Rays.

    “We’ve got too much talent to be swept by anybody at Yankee Stadium, even if we’re playing the ’27 Yankees. It’s not acceptable. We need to start doing what I know we can do.”

  10. DaSaint007 May 18th, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Nice win. Also nice to see Girardi improvise a little.
    Good defense.
    Timely hitting.
    Robertson is Houdini. Joba was great, as was Nova.

    Now lets take care of Baltimore and the Mets.

  11. UnKnown May 18th, 2011 at 12:54 am

    Just watching the game back on DVR right now. Might not see another win for awhile again. I’m kidding… I hope.

    But honestly when they went through the starting lineups they put a picture of Nunez up for Dickerson. Too funny.

  12. Rich in NJ May 18th, 2011 at 12:57 am

    It can’t be said enough, this team rises and falls with A-Rod’s hot streaks and slumps. That’s why they need Montero’s bat, be it now, later in the season, or next year. Trading him would be insane.

  13. tyanksfan36 May 18th, 2011 at 1:05 am


    at the game last night at Tropicana they announced “New York Yankees Manager #26 Joe Girardi” I was like, hey he is #28, Nunez is #26

  14. G-C May 18th, 2011 at 1:20 am

    Nova is progressing really nicely.

    He missed some bats, got some ground balls, and generally looked good.

    As a fan, you get good vibes from him being on the mound. He still has plenty of strides to make, but the raw ability is there for him to be a solid major league #3 starter and I see him continuing to progress towards that as this year rolls on.

  15. Nick in SF May 18th, 2011 at 1:25 am

    Now let’s win 8 of our next 6 games. :evil:

  16. stuart a May 18th, 2011 at 1:56 am

    cano 4 ab’s and 6 total pitches..

    not good what is going on with him??????????

  17. UnKnown May 18th, 2011 at 3:14 am

    Oh no Girardi has found a designated bunter in Dickerson it sounds like. Rest assured for Dickerson that if he is solid in bunting he will never go down to the minors again.

  18. Mike Ri May 18th, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Good win Yanks ! finally :-)

  19. blake May 18th, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Im starting to come around to Rich in NJs way of thinking regarding Montero. You look and you see how much this offense still revolves around Alex and you realize how important a young dominant bat could be for the future.

    Now of course Montero is a prospect and he’s not a sure thing…..but if there is even a chance he could become a Miguel Cabrera or Frank Thomas then that’s extremely valuable to the Yankee future needs.

    I would still trade him for Felix Hernandez…..but hardly anyone else.

  20. GreenBeret7 May 18th, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Something to start your day out.

  21. The Mick536 May 18th, 2011 at 7:42 am

    So A-rod didn’t like being singled out on PTI, I guess.

  22. GreenBeret7 May 18th, 2011 at 7:44 am

    For those that need a good swift kick to get rollin’ today….

  23. GreenBeret7 May 18th, 2011 at 7:49 am

    PTI = Part Time Idiots

  24. Wang IS Taiwan May 18th, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Ah…feels good to win again. Keep it going Yanks!

  25. Betsy May 18th, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Blake, I would never trade him either – I suppose for Felix – but that’s it. I don’t need him to be brought up now because he’s not going to fix this team, but overall I don’t think he’s going anywhere.

  26. blake May 18th, 2011 at 8:17 am


    The only fix for the team is for their good players to play up to their abilities…..bringing Montero up wont change that……however, is there a chance he could help……I say absolutely.

  27. Abe Peteraham May 18th, 2011 at 8:22 am

    I missed the blog last night.
    Did Joe need to bring in Mo?
    No one else can get 1 out w a 5 run lead?!

  28. GreenBeret7 May 18th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Montero would be the logical choice to get the promotion if the Yanks keep Dickerson and Jones doesn’t start showing something in the way of production and effort.

  29. blake May 18th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Robertson is throwing 93-94 mph cutters these days…..that’s crazy.

  30. blake May 18th, 2011 at 8:29 am


    I like it, give Andrew him duffle bag full of Yankee shirts and hoodies and send him on his way….keep Dickerson up and put Montero on the team. They would have to send someone else down though when Chavez returns……wish Nunez had more outfield experience.

  31. Erin May 18th, 2011 at 8:31 am

    So, Chad doesn’t have to start a LoHud Suicide Hotline???? The long crisis is over!!!! ;)

  32. Erin May 18th, 2011 at 8:32 am

    BryanHoch “I think if we had lost today, we’d probably have had to take the bus all the way up to Baltimore tonight.” – Brett Gardner

    BryanHoch Important Yankees news: @NickSwisher has shaved his head. #mohawknomore

  33. upstate kate May 18th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I got home in time to see Arod’s 2nd HR, and D-rob’s Houdidi act.
    The Rays always seem to put such an effectively extreme shift on for Tex…can’t he compensate for theat?

  34. Betsy May 18th, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Blake, he couldn’t be worse than Posada even if he struggles, so maybe you’re right. Boy, though, if he doesn’t start off like a house afire, you know how the media will call him a bust.

  35. GreenBeret7 May 18th, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Nunez could probably play in the smaller outfields like left in Boston and right in NY or both corners in Baltimore. Not sure that I’d play him in the bigger otfield corners because his outfield tracking is a little sketchy right now…..especially going back. He’s got the bay and speed and has no hesitation when it comes to running. Seems to read pitchers moves well, or, he just outruns the throws.

  36. Mell May 18th, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Did Joe need to bring in Mo?
    No one else can get 1 out w a 5 run lead?!

    Once they Yankees decided to have Rivera get warm, I thought he should have been brought in to the 9th from the get go. He hasn’t pitched a great deal of late. Even if it’s a rocking chair inning, he probably could have used the work.

  37. GreenBeret7 May 18th, 2011 at 8:39 am

    For what ever reason, as good as Robertson is in his first innings, he seems to lose his control in the 2nd inning. Doesn’t seem to be able to find the control after sitting.

  38. Mell May 18th, 2011 at 8:40 am

    The Rays always seem to put such an effectively extreme shift on for Tex…can’t he compensate for theat?


    The way he’s been hitting ‘em from the left side lately, I’m surprised the advanced scouts didn’t have the Rays postion a guy right on the 3rd base bag to collect the inevitable pop up.

  39. blake May 18th, 2011 at 8:44 am


    My thought would be to let Posada continue to DH against RHP because I think he’ll get it together and hit there and then let Montero back up Martin (catch a game or so per week) and DH vs LHP. That eases him into the situation. If Montero performs and Jorge doesn’t then you can gradually give him DH time against RHP also.


    I think Nunez could be a good outfielder maybe with some experience. If they are going to keep him in the big leagues then they should get him playing more positions so that he could have more opportunities to play. Make him into a super utility guy… a younger J. Hairston Jr. If they aren’t going to do that then he needs to be playing SS every day at SWB.

  40. blake May 18th, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I think Teixera will either have to rework his LH swing or stop switch hitting as he gets older……he needs to shorten and flatten his swing plane…..the older he gets the tougher its going to be to make consistent good contact when he’s keeping the bat in the zone for so little time. He should be proactive and address it with Long this winter while he’s young enough to make the change.

  41. Mell May 18th, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Anyone else like that 6:40 start time the Rays have been employing?

  42. blake May 18th, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I like the 6:40 start time…..I can record, hit pause, get the kids in bed, and catch up to live speed for the later innings…..and miss all the commercials :)

  43. Abe Peteraham May 18th, 2011 at 8:55 am

    6:40 is nice, I cant believe mlb approves of it. Though 7:00 aint bad either,,its the 8:00 i dont like

  44. Erin May 18th, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Mell May 18th, 2011 at 8:50 am
    Anyone else like that 6:40 start time the Rays have been employing?

    I actually did end up really liking it.

  45. Erin May 18th, 2011 at 8:56 am

    New Post: A fresh perspective, and a fresh bat


  46. Yankee Trader May 18th, 2011 at 8:58 am

    The Rays always seem to put such an effectively extreme shift on for Tex…can’t he compensate for that?
    Either start hitting the other way, which he supposedly had worked overtime to do, or lay a bunt down the 3rd base line, like A-Gone did to the Yankee shift earlier in the season.


    I believe Robertson leads the relief staff in allowed inherited runs scoring, with Chamberlain a close second. It seems that Robertson has settle down when coming in to relieve with runners on.

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