I can’t imagine there are many people out there who know a ton about Felipe Paulino. I know he throws hard, has a career record of 11-31 and pitched very well today. I also know that good pitching is supposed to beat good hitting, but still…
“You can only tip your cap so many times to the other guy,” Alex Rodriguez said. “Essentially, we have to look in the mirror and do it ourselves.”
Derek Jeter gets something of a pass for leaving the bases loaded in the sixth inning — that’s a bad out, but it’s hard to knock the guy who’s hitting .390 — but the heart of the order remains fair game. Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira combined for one hit today. Jeter and Curtis Granderson have been getting on base this season, but the middle of the order is collectively struggling. None of them is hitting better than .260, and Cano has just four RBI.
“Very seldom when you have three guys with the track record that they have are they all in it together,” Joe Girardi said. “You might have two guys going really well and one guy is struggling a little bit, but it’s happening now. These guys have fought through it before, they’ve went through struggles before and gotten out of them. They’ll get out of these.”
They didn’t get through it tonight. In fact, all three of them went down in order without getting the ball out of the infield after Granderson’s double in the eighth that seemed like their last and best chance for a late-inning rally. Paulino was very good — big fastball, an ability to throw his offspeed stuff for strikes — and it would easier to give credit if it were a one-time thing. Good pitching does beat good hitting, but right now, the Yankees don’t have good hitting.
“He threw the ball extremely well,” Rodriguez said. “But you know it’s really about us. We feel when we have a good approach and we take our A swings, regardless of who we’re facing, we’ve got to have better results than that.”
• Help could be coming tomorrow. Nick Swisher got through all of today’s drills with no problems, and Girardi said there’s a chance he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow. “It’s possible,” Girardi said. “We’ll see how he feels when he gets here tomorrow. I just want to make sure he feels okay tomorrow.”
• Short of getting Swisher back, and getting Brett Gardner and Eric Chavez off the disabled list, there’s little Girardi can do to change things. It’s not like he has red-hot hitters buried in the lineup. “Do you have any ideas?” he said. “The guys have to go out and do it. These are our players, so they have to go out and do it. You can try shaking up the lineup, but what’s that going to do? They still have to hit and be productive. I believe in these guys. They’ll get it done.”
• Granderson was thrown out trying to advance to third on a fly ball to right field in the sixth inning. It was a tremendous throw from Jeff Francoeur, and Girardi attributed the decision to run to Granderson trying to spark something in this dormant offense. “Sometimes when an offense is struggling, you try to get into a situation where you can score,” Girardi said. “I told him, ‘You’ve got a guy that’s as good as anyone throwing out there in right field.’ He got behind the ball. You can’t be thrown out.”
• Cano and Rodriguez each said they feel good at the plate, they’re just not getting the results. “Man, I was even worse in ’08,” Cano said. “I came back and hit .270. I was hitting like .150 in May. It’s like I say, things are going to turn around. I don’t want to send negative messages to my brain. I just get here early like I do every day, keep working hard and one day it’s going to turn around.”
• Things started to turn around for Hiroki Kuroda, but he allowed two runs in the first inning to continue a trend. Of the 18 runs he’s allowed this season, nine have come in the first inning. “Everything I had to adjust,” he said. “I didn’t have all my pitches, and I didn’t have my command either. So basically I had to make all the adjustments I could.”
• The Yankees are 5-12 when opponents score first. They are 9-1 when they score first.
• Kuroda lasted only through 4.1 innings, leaving another long day for the Yankees bullpen, capped by two hitless from Freddy Garcia. “My role is a starter is to go as deep as I can into the game,” Kuroda said. “At least I wanted to go seven, but I couldn’t do that, so it was really frustrating.”
• Granderson’s two hits brought him one away from 1,000 for his career.
• At this point, the Yankees are trying to stay above .500 while the Rays, Orioles and Blue Jays have three of the four best records in the American League. “We’re not where we want to be, but we have a long, long way to go,” Girardi said. “Our destiny is in front of us. We have 16 games with Boston, 15 with Tampa, 12 with Baltimore and 18 with Toronto, so your destiny is in front. Obviously you don’t want to dig yourself a hole, and we do need to start playing better, but my concern is more about our club than what other clubs are doing.”
Associated Press photos