Pick which one you want to focus on, the bad luck or the bad at-bats, because the Yankees had a little of both tonight. Nick Swisher probably had the best 1-for-4 I’ve ever seen. Robinson Cano had one of the worst 0-for-5s.
“We just weren’t able to break through,” Joe Girardi said. “A good part of that was their defense. Their defense kept us from scoring runs tonight. We’ve got to keep it going, we’ve just got to find a way to salvage a game tomorrow.”
Part of it was the Angels defense, but part of it was cleanup hitter Cano striking out twice with the bases loaded. Swisher (2-for-4), Mark Teixeira (1-for-3) and Chris Stewart (1-for-1) are the only Yankees hitting better than .143 with the bases loaded this season, and Cano has been particularly bad, going 1-for-10 with a grand slam.
Tonight, Cano had at least one runner on base in four of his five at-bats. With the bases loaded, he struck out looking against Dan Haren in the third inning, then went down swinging against Ernesto Frieri in the ninth.
“You’ve got a guy throwing 95, 96 mph,” Girardi said. “I didn’t see him go out of the zone. … We’re going to have plenty more chances, so let’s see if it irons itself out. We haven’t done very well this year, and we’ve been very good in the past. It’s just kind of what we’ve went through this year, one of the struggles that we’ve had.”
Swisher, on the other hand, hit the ball on the screws four times tonight. His weakest-hit ball might have been the RBI single that drove in the only Yankees run. Otherwise, he nearly homered in the second inning (Mike Trout made a terrific leaping catch at the wall) and he hit sure doubles to the gap in the seventh and eighth only to have speedy Peter Bourjos track them down.
“What are you gonna do, man?” Swisher said. “I felt like it was one of my better games, I felt like I really swung the bat super well. We don’t get nothing to show for it. You get frustrated but what are you gonna do? You come back tomorrow and get ready to bang on somebody tomorrow.”
• The final line is pretty bad — seven innings, nine hits, five runs — but I actually thought Andy Pettitte pitched pretty well tonight. Mistakes to Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo really cost him. “I felt like I threw the ball well, just made some mistakes,” Pettitte said. “Any time you give up a crooked number, three runs there, it’s going to hurt you, especially when Dan (Haren) was throwing the ball as well as he was.”
• Pettitte was positively disgusted with himself over the pitch that Pujols hit out. “I was trying to go in and just left a ball too much on the plate,” Pettitte said. “I jammed him his first at-bat. I was up in the count. I left a ball inner half. He’s not going to want to get jammed again. It’s just a stupid pitch by me and didn’t get the ball in like I wanted to far enough.”
• Pettitte had the opposite reaction to the pitch that Mike Trout hit for an RBI triple two batters before the Pujols homer. “It was a pretty good pitch, he took it off the ground,” Pettitte said. “For me, too, it’s a learning lesson. I’ve never faced him before, and he’s a free-swinger, that’s for sure. Dead low-ball hitter who handles the ball down there really well. I knew that on the report, but you don’t think he’ll get to that one. Obviously he did.”
• After a lot of talk today and yesterday about Pettitte’s cutter, he said the pitch let him down a little bit tonight. “My cutter wasn’t as sharp tonight as it has been,” Pettitte said. “I was trying to force it a little bit. When you’re out there and you’re throwing it, you’re trying to make the adjustments, you’re trying not to force it. … I was trying to not bury it quite as much as I had been. I was starting the ball where my fastball was starting, so I was just trying to get them up a little bit more with a little more depth.”
• Swisher did a pretty good job of explaining each of his three hard-hit outs: “First at-bat, two strikes, Haren is throwing nothing but breaking balls and splits,” Swisher said. “He threw me a fastball and I got a hold of that one. Second one, just a first-pitch breaking ball, looking for something away. He hung a breaking ball, felt like I got pretty good wood on it. (Third one), 3-1, Downs, he’s a sinkerballer and he’s going to throw that ball down and away every time. I was looking in there and felt like I put a pretty good swing on it. Bourjos is just throwing it in his back pocket. What are you gonna do? I wish I had a better answer. That’s all I’ve got.”
• Derek Jeter had another two-hit game for an even 70 on the season. He leads the American League in hits and has a hit in 18 of his past 21 games. This was his 20th multi-hit game of the season.
• The Major League leader in hits, by the way, is Melky Cabrera.
Associated Press photos