The Yankees won six of seven coming into this afternoon’s game at Wrigley. They’d scored at least nine runs in four of those six wins. They seemed ready to feast on a soft-tossing guy like Doug Davis and a below .500 team like the Cubs.
Obviously that didn’t happen.
“Velocity is not the most important thing,” Joe Girardi said. “Location is the most important thing in this game. And movement. And that’s what (Davis) did today, and that’s what Freddy does. They don’t beat themselves usually. They don’t necessarily walk people. They’re able to hold runners. They’re able to do a lot of things, and you can light up the radar gun and still get lit up.”
It’s a fine line for pitchers like Davis and the Yankees own starter, Freddy Garcia. Both have fastballs in the 80s, and the lean heavily on an assortment of offspeed pitches. More than one Yankees hitter said facing Davis was like facing a knuckleballer.
“It’s very similar in that there are no patterns, and you don’t really know where the ball is going to go,” Mark Teixeira said. “He threw me some changeups that went up and away today. The first seven pitches he threw me were all balls, not because he was pitching around me, but because his ball moves everywhere. If he doesn’t know where it’s going sometimes, the hitter’s not going to know where it’s going. He pitched well, kept the ball on the corners and kept us off-balance.”
Davis hadn’t won a game since May of last year, and the Yankees were obviously frustrated by a few calls, but there’s a reason a guy like Davis sticks in the big leagues through 13 seasons and nearly 300 starts: If he’s throwing strikes and mixing his pitches, he has a chance. He’s a lesser, left-handed version of Garcia. Today, Davis was the better of the two.
“I look for the fastball,” Nick Swisher said. “Whatever he flops up there, I’m really trying to sit on that fastball. My first at-bat, he went fastball up, breaking ball, breaking ball. My second at-bat, he went fastball, changeup, changeup, so he’s really just changing it here and there. That’s how you’re supposed to pitch so guys don’t fall into rhythms or trends. We just didn’t do a very good job putting the bat on the ball today.”
Here’s Alex Rodriguez talking mostly about Davis and the Yankees silent offense.
• The Yankees bullpen was active by the third inning, but it turned out, Garcia had already gotten his day turned around. “They were sitting on my slider and breaking pitches,” he said. “So in the second inning, I started throwing my sinker and felt pretty good.”
• Four of the first three Cubs reached base this afternoon, then Garcia allowed three straight hits to start the third inning. With two on and no outs in the third, Garcia started a run in which he retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.
• This was Garcia’s first career loss against the Cubs, snapping a four-game winning streak. he is 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA in seven starts against the Cubs. “I always want to win,” he said. “I was surprised with Davis. We didn’t score any runs, but that’s part of the game. Days like this happen.”
• One last Garcia note: Seven innings today moved him beyond 2,000 innings for his career. He’s thrown 2,001.2 innings.
• Swisher was the one Yankee who most showed his frustration with some of the called strikes for Davis. “When you have a guy on the mound that’s not throwing 95, he gets some more calls because the umpire can see the ball better,” Swisher said. “It’s one of those games that kind of baffles you a little bit. We’ll forget about this and get ready for tomorrow.”
• Swisher said he thought his eighth-inning double — the one that chased Davis from the game — was a home run off the bat. “I hit that ball pretty good,” he said. “As soon as I hit it, I thought it was gone. I’ll take a double; I’m cool with that. As long as it finds some grass, I’m cool.”
• Alex Rodriguez’s eighth-inning strikeout against Carlos Marmol was obviously a pivotal moment. He was the tying run with Teixeira at first base. The first four pitches of the at-bat were sliders, and strike three came on a fastball. “It’s funky,” Rodriguez said of Marmol’s slider. “First time I faced him I believe. He threw two good pitches. Both strikes were in the inning half, probably black or better. Probably foul balls if I swing, and he still had the good fastball in the mid-90s. He’s a guy you probably feel a little bit more comfortable the more you face him four or five times.”
• The Cubs hot-shot young shortstop, Starlin Castro, had a big day with two doubles. He’s hitting .345 with 11 doubles and five triples at home this season, and he’s batting .405 in his past nine games.
• The Yankees were hitless until Robinson Cano singled with two outs in the fourth. He has reached base in all 22 of the Yankees day games this season.
• Another Cano note: He’s hitting .322 against lefties and .273 against right-handers.
• Eduardo Nunez in his past four games: .357 with two runs, two walks, a home run and two RBI.
• There was a weird on-field delay in the third inning. Girardi said it was because of a light just beyond a camera booth in center field. Girardi couldn’t see it from the bench, but it was visible from the plate. Girardi said it looked like a floodlight, maybe one that had been turned on by a building on the other side of the street.
• Teixeira on playing in Wrigley: “As soon as you walk in and see the ivy, you know exactly where you are. It’s one of those special places in baseball.”
• Rodriguez gets the final word today: “It’s definitely a great stadium, great atmosphere and great crowd. It was a perfect day — for the Cubs.”
Associated Press photos, including a cool one of Gardner making a leaping catch in the ivy