The Yankees expect better than this from CC Sabathia. He’s their ace, and in his hands, a 2-0 lead in the seventh should be safe. It shouldn’t be coughed up on a pair of home runs — one of them on an 0-2 pitch to a guy who hadn’t homered all year — and on three-straigh walks, the last of which came with the bases loaded and put the Reds in front.
“It’s 2-0 in the seventh inning,” Sabathia said. “That should be good enough to be able to win a ballgame. Especially, I felt like I was pitching pretty good up to that point. It should be enough. … I just blew it.”
“He still only gave up three runs,” Girardi said. “Bottom line is we didn’t score a lot of runs again. That seems to be what we’re struggling with right now. Our starting pitching has seemed to be a little bit better, and we’re having a hard time scoring runs.”
For at least a week, Girardi has been singing the same song. Call it making excuses if you like, it’s more showing confidence and spouting old baseball wisdom. Balls have been hit hard. Things will even out. This lineup will eventually produce in key at-bats. Girardi has backed his hitters while they’ve gone 6-for-58 with runners in scoring position.
Today, though, Girardi seemed irritated. He didn’t call anyone out — that’s not his way — but he wasn’t willing to tip his cap either. Asked whether today was a matter of Johnny Cueto deserving credit, Girardi more or less dismissed the premise. He clearly put this one on the shoulder of his underperforming hitters.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I wasn’t up there. … It’s strange to watch what we’ve watched the last week or so. You can probably go back even further than that. With these guys the way they’re capable of swinging the bats and the runs that we’re scoring is kind of strange.”
Hitting coach Kevin Long said some of the same stuff Girardi’s been saying for the past week-plus.
“There’s frustration, disappointment, but it’s probably not as bad as it looks,” Long said. “We gave Tex three days off, came back today and had a nice swing. Guy’s throwing 100, where’s the 3rd baseman playing? Right down the line. Guys, I can go on and on. There’s things happening now that we can overcome. We can’t say ‘poor us.’ If anything, let’s fight against the world right now. Let’s go. That’s the message I want these players to have. I think that’s the best way to go about it.”
• Seriously, though, what was going on in that seventh inning? Sabathia had a shutout going. He had a no-hitter into the fifth. He hadn’t allowed an extra-base hit. “I was just trying to do too much,” he said. First-pitch homer to Ryan Ludwick is fairly easy to dismiss, but an 0-2 pitch that Ryan Hanigan hit for a homer? “Belt-high fastball to Hanigan,” Sabathia said. “Just things that I shouldn’t be doing that late in the game with a 2-0 lead.”
• It was the first time Sabathia allowed a home run on an 0-2 pitch since 2007.
• With two outs in that seventh, Sabathia walked three straight batters, including a bases-loaded walk to Brandon Phillips to bring in the go-ahead run. According to Elias, it was the 16th bases-loaded walk of Sabathia’s career and his first since 2010. “Not making pitches and trying to overthrow and do too much when it was probably time to back off and let myself make a good pitch,” Sabathia said.
• Chris Stewart said he didn’t feel like Sabathia was getting squeezed. “It wasn’t missing by much, just enough to where they were balls instead of strikes,” Stewart said. “It happens. Hopefully he’ll get it just on the plate enough to where we get the strike calls, and go from there.”
• Has the Stewart/Sabathia partnership started to slide? “I didn’t make the pitches I needed to,” Sabathia said. “I feel good and confident about the pitches that he’s calling; I just didn’t make the pitch.”
• Sabathia is now 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in six starts immediately following a Yankees loss this season.
• A lot of first-pitch swinging for Alex Rodriguez today. “Those are all fastballs,” Long said. “They’re all good pitches to hit. They’re all strikes. We talked about one thing — moving the ball to left-center field because it looked like he was inside out a little bit. So he makes the adjustment, he crushes the ball, and he gets nothing to show for it.”
• Rodriguez has one RBI and no home runs since May 6. The past two days he’s hit balls that looked like homers off the bat. Today’s died in left field. “I thought it was going to go out when he hit it,” Girardi said. “I don’t know if the wind held it up or what happened there, but I thought it was going to go out. I thought we had the lead, 4-3.”
• Raul Ibanez has emerged as the anti-Rodriguez with six home runs and 15 RBI in his past 12 games. “Just trying to have good at-bats,” he said. “Working with Kevin Long, try to have a good approach and try to help out any way I can.”
• The Yankees are just 1-15 when scoring three runs or less. They’re 20-5 when scoring at least four.
• The Yankees pitching staff struck out 35 batters this series, at least 10 in each game. … The Yankees have committed at least one error in a season-high five straight games. … Derek Jeter’s eight-game hitting streak ended.
• Teixeira said he’s not going to be taking any more medication to try to help with his inflamed airway. “I’m done with drugs,” he said. “I’ve been on more things the past two months than I’ve been on the past 10 years. I’m done with all the medicines.”
• Here’s Jeter with the final word: “We’re still having some good at-bats. We’ve hit some balls good. Al hit a ball that would have gone out if not for the wind. We hit a couple balls yesterday that would have gone out if it wasn’t for the wind. It’s stretching, but you’ve got to look for some positives when you’re playing, you know what I mean? We’ve just got to get some hits.”
Associated Press photos