Hard to blame the Cubs for making the decision. With the game tied in the eighth, Nick Swisher was coming to the plate and the Cubs went to a right-handed reliever. They wanted Swisher to hit left-handed, the side where he was hitting .173 coming into this game.
“Either way, I’m ready,” Swisher said. “I’m not a guy that really looks at the numbers. I just go off how I feel in my own head. You have to. This game can beat you up and it can put you at the top of the mountain. You’re going to have good times and bad times, but tonight was definitely a good night.”
Swisher’s been that kind of hitter lately. He was brutal earlier this season, but for the past month now he’s hit for average, hit for power and drawn 21 walks in his past 23 games.
“I feel good,” he said. “I know I dug myself a hole there early in the season, but I’ve been battling, fighting and putting the time in, just having run. I’m finally laughing again and smiling, really enjoying the game like I know how.”
Brett Gardner also seems to have turned his season around, and Jorge Posada was showing some positive signs before the Yankees fell into the National League portion of the schedule and lost their designated hitter. I’ve written before that the best case scenario is always for a good player to remember how to be good again. That trumps any sort of trade, signing or call-up. The Yankees need Swisher to be the hitter he was last season, and lately, he’s looked like that guy again.
“He’s pretty much the same guy (as earlier in the season), but he’s a little louder, which is good,” Joe Girardi said. “Swish brings a lot of energy to our club. It’s frustrating as a ballplayer when you struggle. In any walk of life, when you struggle it’s frustrating. For him it’s been good… He’s been swinging the bat so much better for us. It’s great. He’s had some RBIs here. He had a sac fly I believe it was yesterday. It seems like both sides are starting to come together for him.”
• CC Sabathia had another one of those games where he looked rocky earlier and seemed to finally decide he’d had enough. After the Alfonso Soriano homer that gave the Cubs a three-run lead, Sabathia allowed just three more hits and he retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced. “Changeup was rough. Two-seam was terrible,” Sabathia said. “I just wanted to try to go out and keep us in the game and keep it close, and these guys found a way to score runs again.”
• Both Sabathia and Girardi said the key was going to more offspeed pitches late in the game. The Cubs were being aggressive, and Sabathia was able to get some early swings and misses.
• Of course, you know what Sabathia was most upset about: His 0-for-3 at the plate. He actually came up in pretty key spots early in the game and never got it done. And that’s from a guy who takes a lot of pride in his ability to hit. And his teammates know it. “I’ve been getting crushed in (the clubhouse),” Sabathia said. “You know me, I didn’t go in and look at pitches I was throwing. I went in and looked at my three at-bats. We’ve got some work to do before Citi Field.”
• Someone asked what Kevin Long’s told him about his at-bats. “He won’t even look at me,” Sabathia said.
• Alex Rodriguez said he thought one of two things would happen on his deep fly ball in the ninth: “Either out (of the park) or an easy out,” he said. “I didn’t think it would hit off the wall for a double, but I was very happy. I’ll take the double, the RBI and the W.”
• Rough couple of days for Russell Martin, who was run over at home plate yesterday and was hit in the head on a swing tonight. “It’s part of the trade unfortunately,” Girardi said. “You’re going to get hit with some back swings and it’s frustrating, but we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
• Girardi said he was going to Dave Robertson in the bottom of the eighth, no matter what happened in the top of the inning. “I was going to make the switch because that part of the order had given (Sabathia) trouble,” Girardi said.
• Three-hit game for Brett Gardner, including the first leadoff home run of his career. He has eight multi-hit games in his past 15. “I really didn’t have a lot of concerns (putting him in the leadoff spot),” Girardi said. “His struggles the first month of the season were whether he was hitting first or ninth, he was struggling. He’s just started to swing the bat well.”
• After losing the opener, the Yankees were able to salvage a series win. “It’s a good feeling,” Girardi said. “We didn’t score any runs the first day, and to be able to come back and the way he won tonight, it’s a close game and then we were able to break it open.”
Associated Press photos