Going to try to be quick with these because I got back to the press box late…
Hard to say much more about the offense at this point, because I’m pretty sure everyone is well aware of the situation. The Yankees lineup has been inconsistent, and when the team has lost, it’s been at least partially because of struggles with runners in scoring position.
“I think we know who we are,” Joe Girardi said. “I don’t think we’ve played up to our ability.”
The lineup storyline is obvious, but the starting pitcher storyline might be just as crystal clear.
Just when it seemed Phil Hughes was pitching his way out of the Yankees rotation, he’s delivered back-to-back wins, and he’s looked sharp in each of them. He has a 2.51 ERA in those two starts, and he’s pitched into the seventh inning, and then into the eighth inning. For a rotation that’s also looking for some consistency, Hughes just might be providing it.
Two starts, of course, don’t make much of a trend — especially not against two pretty weak lineups — and Hughes will need to build on that tonight.
“I just think he’s a better pitcher than what he had showed (earlier this season),” Girardi said. “Eventually, he was going to get to where he should be. … . I think his fastball has been better, his changeup has been better, his curveball has been a little bit better. He used a few cutters last time. Let’s face it; any team in this league can drop a 10-spot on you if you’re not on top of your game. I don’t care who you’re facing. You can go down to Single-A and if you’re not on top of your game, them boys are going to whack you around. We see it all the time in spring training. I think he’s pitched better and we need that to continue to improve and for him to get late in games for us.”
• Ivan Nova threw roughly 25 pitches in the bullpen today. He also simulated coming off the mound to cover first base. Although he said he still felt something in his ankle — “A little bit,” he said, holding his fingers very close together — Nova is convinced he’ll be ready to start on Saturday with no trouble pushing off that sprained ankle. “If I can push, I can pitch,” he said.
• Girardi said the Yankees won’t know for sure about Nova until he warms up on Saturday. “Our plans have been for him to start,” Girardi said. “We’ll have him warm up Saturday and hopefully everything goes okay, and he feels okay tomorrow. I think he will.”
• As you probably guessed, Alex Rodriguez is healthy, just getting a day to rest.
• Nick Swisher is also healthy, just getting a DH day because the Yankees are in the middle of playing so many days in a row. “We’re going to try to move them around (in the DH spot) because of the stretch we’re in, and the flight every other day, and being on the turf,” Girardi said. “So we’re just trying to give him a little blow.”
• Girardi said there are no plans to change the way he uses David Phelps the next two days because of Nova’s slight uncertainty. “No, we’ve got to try to win,” Girardi said. “Win today, worry about Friday Friday, Saturday I worry about on Saturday.”
• If the Yankees needed to spot start Freddy Garcia at this point, Girardi said he could probably throw 75 pitches.
Associated Press photo