When Russell Martin walked into the clubhouse tonight, reporters were kind of scattered throughout the room. Martin walked up to his locker, turned to face the scattered mob, and waited. He knew there would be plenty of questions about this one, and he took a breath as reporters surrounded him.
“Offensively, I’ve been pretty bad all year,” Martin said. “But defensively, it’s normally there to salvage. Today was just a bad day overall. … I felt like this is pretty much my loss. If I make that play in the third inning, it’s a different ball game. Then I gave them a run on that first-and-third play. I’m giving my best effort, but today wasn’t good enough.”
Even as his batting average has slipped further and further below the Mendoza line, Martin has taken some solace in his ability to affect the game behind the plate. But tonight he dropped a ball on a play at the plate (which opened the door to a three-unearned-run inning) then he threw the ball away trying to catch B.J. Upton stealing second (which opened the door to two insurance runs in the seventh).
On the play at the plate: “I caught it clean. If you catch the ball clean and it’s in your glove, it should stay in there. I’ve made that play tons of times before. I’m not used to not making it.”
On the throw to second: “I just tried to throw a strike to second base and I short-hopped Robbie. He saw the runner take off for home and he tried to pick it; it just got by him. That’s another mistake for me.”
Of course, the errors came on an 0-for-4 night that dropped Martin’s season batting average to .182. He hasn’t had a hit since the beginning of the last Subway Series, and he’s had just four hits since the end of the first Subway Series. That’s a three-week stretch during which he’s hit .080, walked just four times and driven in one run.
“It’s just me being bad right now,” Martin said. “That’s all it is. … I’m probably expanding the zone a little too much, not being patient. I don’t know when’s the last time I walked, but that’s normally a big part of my game. I’m probably being a little overaggressive, trying to get three hits in one at-bat. It doesn’t happen that way.”
• Martin made two of three Yankees errors. Last night, the winning run scored on a Mark Teixeira error. Of the 29 unearned runs the Yankees have allowed this season, 11 have come against the Rays. The Yankees have now lost nine straight games at Tropicana Field. It’s tied for the Rays longest home winning streak against any team (they also beat the Twins in nine straight from 2000 through 2002).
• It wasn’t only fielding errors tonight. Robinson Cano forgot how many outs there were in the first inning and was doubled off at first base. “I thought it was two outs,” Cano said. “But it shouldn’t have happened. I should know how many outs. There’s no excuse for that.”
• Also give third-base coach Rob Thomson an error for sending Cano home with one out in a one-run game in the sixth. “No excuse,” Thomson said. “Just a poor decision in that situation. There’s nothing really more to be said. One out, Chavy’s coming to the plate, and I just got a little bit too aggressive. That seemed to take the wind out of our sails at the time. That’s it. Poor decision, all the way around.”
• By the way, I only saw one replay, but it actually looked like Cano made that a pretty close play at the plate. To see it live, he seemed to be out by a mile, but he got his hand in there on the slide. “He wasn’t blocking the plate or anything,” Cano said. “He was just waiting for the ball. It’s just at the last second, he came up, and caught the ball before I got there. I asked one of the guys, and he said it wasn’t too far away, I think. It was a good throw by the second baseman or the shortstop, and Molina, he’s one of the best behind the plate.”
• I sit next to Marc Carig here at the Trop, and immediately after Martin tried to throw out Upton in the seventh, we started talking about whether it made a bit of sense for Martin to throw in that situation (with one out and Desmond Jennings at third). Martin and Girardi said that call is made from the bench. Pitch-to-pitch, Martin is told whether he should throw the ball or hold it. It’s never a snap decision. “That’s the play,” Martin said. “I’m supposed to throw a better throw than that. That’s just the throw-through. It didn’t work out.”
• Ivan Nova hadn’t lost a game on the road since June 20 of last year, and he hadn’t lost a game anywhere since May 19. “I don’t have really good fastball command today,” Nova said. “I was always falling behind hitters. I got hit. I can’t make any excuse, I just got hit.”
• Larry Rothschild made at least one trip to the mound tonight, but Nova said there was no discussion about mechanics. “He just come to calm me down a little bit,” Nova said. “If it was something mechanically, I’ve got to see it tomorrow, not today. It’s not an excuse. I just got hit today, and I’ve got to forget about this one and move on to the next one.”
• Dewayne Wise has homered in three of his past five starts. He is 9-for-19 with five extra-base hits in his past eight games. He had four hits total prior to last Wednesday.
• Cano has driven in at least one run in seven straight games, the longest streak of his career. It’s the longest streak by a Yankee since Jorge Posada had an RBI in eight straight games in 2010.
• Chad Qualls threw 36 pitches tonight. That’s his highest total since September 14, 2007 when he was with the Astros.
• After an ugly loss like this one, Girardi gets the final word: “If you want to connect the dots let me know, if you can figure out what the dots are. We have been playing really well, you know? If teams played well 162 games in a row, you’d probably win 130 of them. And we don’t see that happen. So there’s going to be some human errors. There‘s going be some mental errors. And those are a little harder to take. But they’re going to happen. You got to put them behind you and learn from them and go on.”
Associated Press photos