After a third-straight loss to open the season, sentiment in the Yankees clubhouse seemed to be universal.
“The at-bats have been consistent and pretty solid, swinging at strikes,” Alex Rodriguez said. “Everything they did worked out perfectly. Everything we did worked out imperfectly.”
Even after a three-hit, 3-0 shutout, the Yankees seemed to be shaking their heads more than hanging their heads. This isn’t usually a make-excuses clubhouse, but the Yankees seemed honestly happy with the way they hit this weekend, they just weren’t happy with the number of hits. In terms of line drives and hard-hit balls, the Yankees didn’t have a particularly bad weekend, but the Rays aggressive use of a defensive shift worked incredibly well. With three losses by a total of six runs, missed opportunities carried considerable weight.
“That’s a defense I’ve never seen before,” Nick Swisher said. “I don’t think anybody has ever seen that, especially to everybody. You’re talking about everybody from Curt to Al, Cano, Tex, myself. I can even think of a hard-hit ball Tex had last night, man, takes that run away. Curt hit two lasers up the middle yesterday and (Sean) Rodriguez was standing right behind second base. We can’t get frustrated because we’re not getting results because we are putting great at-bats together. We’re doing things the right way. We just haven’t picked up that first W yet.”
Even with the shift, the Yankees scored six runs both Friday and Saturday, but still couldn’t get a win. Today the Yankees finally had a well-pitched game, but it came with a near complete-game shutout from Jeremy Hellickson.
“I don’t want to take anything away from the kid,” Joe Girardi said. “But we lined out a number of times, and that’s going to happen.”
Said Mark Teixiera: “That’s why I like hitting home runs, because they can’t catch it when you hit home runs. You can score a lot of runs that way. But if you’re not hitting home runs, you’re at the mercy of the balls falling it. I thought we swung the bats well all weekend, we just didn’t have much to show for it.”
• Not a bad outing for Phil Hughes, just a short outing. He allowed two runs — one on a misplayed ball by Raul Ibanez, another on a solo homer by Carlos Pena — but runs weren’t the problem. “I just have to put guys away early in counts and try and have some quick innings in the middle innings,” Hughes said. “Obviously you’re going to have jams every now and then, but if you can get some quick innings to move things along, it helps. The pitch count was the issue today.”
• Hughes actually broke Matt Joyce’s bat on that first-inning triple, but Ibanez — starting in right field for the first time since 2005 — misread the ball, then misplayed it. “He hit it off the end and it had some top spin on it,” Ibanez said. “I misread it, the velocity of the ball, and then I tried to make a play instead of laying up. I tried to go for it with a guy on second base and it didn’t work out. I screwed it up.”
• On the Pena home run, Hughes went to a fastball at 3-2. He said he’d thrown so many offspeed pitches in the at-bat that he thought he could surprise Pena with a fastball in that situation. Obviously Pena was ready for it.
• This was the first time since Hughes’ major league debut that the Yankees were held scoreless in a Hughes start. Last year, Hughes led all major league pitchers in run support per nine innings.
• Girardi on Hughes: “I thought it was a pretty positive outing. Obviously you don’t want to see 100 pitches in five innings but overall I thought it was a pretty positive outing today. We saw his velocity the whole way throughout. He threw a really good changeup. His curveball and cutter were decent. He just got into some really long counts.”
• Aside from the home run by Jeff Keppinger, Boone Logan looked pretty sharp in his first outing since feeling lower back tightness on the last day of spring training. He struck out three in an inning and a third. “I felt good,” Logan said. “Arm felt really good. I felt like there was more arm than whole-body in my delivery tonight. But I expected that. It felt like it got looser and looser the more pitches I threw, it didn’t get tighter, which is a good feeling to have. That (home run) ball just ran over the plate. What can you do?”
• Girardi on the decision to let Logan stay in to face Keppinger: “I can’t use Mo, Robertson and Soriano every day, and when we’re losing, we try to get some innings out of some other guys down there. Boone had thrown the ball really well to three hitters, and then he made a mistake with the fastball. He finished up getting Molina, looking good.”
• Both Ibanez and Granderson fouled balls off their right legs and were limping a little, but both said it was no big deal. They expect to be fine tomorrow.
• Another fan reached over the right-field wall to affect a ball in play today. This time it was properly ruled a double without the need for replay. Ibanez said it was the right call. He said the ball was going to hit the top of the wall, but he had no chance of catching it.
• Pretty good debut for David Phelps who faced two batters, getting a strikeout and a groundout. “It’s a great feeling,” Phelps said. “You dream about it your whole life. Jogging out to the mound when they called me, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really happening.’ I was fortunate enough to get ahead of the first guy. We had a good scouting report on him. Russ called all the pitches, and I just had to throw them. It was awesome. It’s what you hope for.”
• Last time the Yankees opened a season 3-0 was 1998. That season seemed to work out alright.
Associated Press photos