After 15 innings dragged nearly all the way to midnight last night, Yankees batting practice was optional this afternoon. Nick Swisher showed up early, anyway, and went to work with Kevin Long.
“I told him, there’s something that’s just not right, man,” Swisher said. “And I feel like it’s been going on long enough. We went in there, dissected a lot of stuff, took a lot of swings today, and at the end of the day I think it brings us back to that attitude. Just have that positive mind set every single time.
“Now it kind of feels like the clouds have parted a little bit.”
Last weekend, it was Swisher and Jorge Posada who were dropped to the bottom of the lineup — maybe you heard something about it — and tonight those two combined to reach base six times and drive in five runs, three of them on Swisher’s two-out, bases-loaded double in the first inning. In that one inning, the Yankees scored as many runs as they’d scored in all but two of their previous 19 games.
The Yankees have played better baseball the past three games. They beat a first-place team on Tuesday, had to scratch for a win on Wednesday and they ran away with one tonight. The losing, it seems, had gone on long enough.
“We were struggling for a couple of weeks there, and we seemed to get things on track,” Joe Girardi said. “This was good. This is a good time for this”
Obviously, three games don’t mean everything is corrected, but the Yankees can go home feeling much better than when they left. They can enter this weekend’s Subway Series knowing that the bats have shown some life, and the defense looks sound, and the pitching remains a strength.
“We’ve got a lot of talent in this room,” Swisher said. “And when it all comes together it’s pretty fun to watch, and tonight was one of those nights.”
In the ninth inning, Derek Jeter was the only Yankees infielder playing his usual position. Eduardo Nunez had shifted to second, and the corners were occupied by a pair of long-time catchers, which led to plenty of postgame discussion.
Jorge Posada: In his first infield start since 2008, Posada didn’t get a single ground ball, but he did pick one ball out of the dirt. Jeter also pulled him off the bag once. “It’s tough when you’re not there a whole lot,” Posada said. “It’s not an easy job. I haven’t played that much there. You take ground balls there, but once the game starts, it’s a whole different thing.”
Russell Martin: To give Robinson Cano an inning off, Martin moved from catcher to third base in the ninth. He made one play, then let a ball glance off the end of his glove. Well, not his glove. He was using Cano’s. “I was going to grab A-Rod’s and his is a little bit longer,” Martin said. “I made the wrong choice.”
Francisco Cervelli: When Martin moved to third, Cervelli came off the bench to catch. If he got to pick, would Cervelli have preferred the hot corner for an inning? “I love to catch, every time,” he said.
Joe Girardi: As a former catcher himself, the Yankees manager got a laugh out of two catchers in the infield. If he used his coaching staff, Girardi said he could have filled the whole thing. “I told Jorge, we only need two more and we could have a complete set,” Girardi said. “I would have had to put Jorge at second, because that’s where he started (in the minors). Russell definitely would go to short, because he’s the most athletic. Tony (Pena)’s the oldest so he goes to first. That leaves me at third.”
• This was vintage CC Sabathia. After a few so-so starts, Sabathia threw 109 pitches, 84 of them for strikes. He struck out nine, walked none, and every time the Orioles got a runners in scoring position, Sabathia ended the inning against the very next batter. “(An early lead) calms you down a little bit,” Sabathia said. “You can go out and just try to pound the zone, get these guys back in to score as many runs as possible.”
• Whether you believe him or not, Sabathia said he didn’t mean to hit Nick Markakis. It certainly seemed to be retaliation for Chris Dickerson and Robinson Cano. “It just got away from me,” Sabathia said. “Just a fastball, trying to go in, I always pitch him in. It’s just one of those things.”
• Sabathia said he thought it was funny to get to the mound and see Posada at first. “He was constantly talking to me, telling me to get over and things like that,” Sabathia said. “It was fun to have him out there.”
• Back-to-back Yankees starters have pitched eight innings. “It’s big because if they’re in the eighth inning that means they’re pitching well,” Girardi said. “It also gives your bullpen a break, which those guys needed. Robby needed a day. It doesn’t hurt to give Joba an extra day and Mo a day. Those guys have been pitching in all these close games. It’s a big lift.”
• The Yankees had three triples in a game (Jeter, Gardner and Granderson) for the first time since May 13, 2009. They’re the first team to have three triples in a game at Camden Yards since Oakland did it in 1995.
• Orioles starters had allowed eight earned runs in their past 56 innings. Brad Bergesen allowed eight earned in 3.1 tonight.
• Robinson Cano now has a hit in 18 straight games against the Orioles. During those games he’s hitting .427. He also has a 17-game hitting streak at Camden Yards, dating back to May 10, 2009. It’s the longest active hitting streak by an opponent at the stadium.
• Speaking of beating up on the Orioles, Sabathia is 16-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 22 career starts against Baltimore.
• Donnie Collins reports that Greg Golson is rehabbing in Tampa, but Mark Prior is not close to returning from his groin injury.
Associated Press photos