If the Yankees lose today’s series finale, they’ll go a full year between wins at Tropicana Field. They haven’t won here since July 20 of last year, and they won’t be back until September 3. They’ve lost nine road games in a row against the Rays, and they’ve had a lead in six of those games.
“We’ve given up leads,” Joe Girardi said. “That’s been the common denominator it seems, for the most part. We’ve had leads and haven’t been able to keep them. We’ve got to pitch a little better and then continue to add on.”
To try to snap the streak, the Yankees turn to the rookie David Phelps, who made his big league debut in this stadium and is stretched out to give the Yankees 80-85 pitches. D.J. Mitchell is behind him as a long reliever, plus a all of the Yankees regular late-inning guys.
“I expect him to compete at a high level,” Girardi said. “I liked the way he threw the ball when he came in relief the other day. I liked the way he threw the ball when he was here before with us. … I thought his stuff was pretty good when he left, but we just felt that he wasn’t pitching enough and we had to get him built up again. You look at his body of work with us, it’s been pretty good.”
Despite the holiday and the losing streak and tomorrow’s off day, everything was business as usual in the Yankees clubhouse today. The team is taking batting practice right now, and there’s no indication that team is even aware of losing nine in a row in this stadium. It really feels like just another day game after a night game. Everything’s pretty quiet.
“I wouldn’t worry about this group,” Girardi said. “I don’t worry about this group.”
• The Yankees are allowed to add a 26th roster player for the two games on Saturday. Girardi hinted, but didn’t actually say, that the team is planning to recall Cory Wade. He said that the usual 10-day rule doesn’t apply for a doubleheader call-up like this, so Wade can come up for the day. The team is allowed one extra player for both games. They can’t pick one guy for the first game, then have a different 26th player for the second game.
• Girardi said the Yankees still haven’t decided what to do with Phelps after today’s start. There’s a chance he could fall back into his familiar long relief role when CC Sabathia comes off the disabled list after the all-star break. There is also the option of sending Phelps back to the minor leagues to stay stretched out as a starter, leaving Mitchell to be the long man.
• Despite Russell Martin’s on-going struggles, Girardi said he still considers Martin his everyday catcher, and there are no plans to change that. “Stew’s played,” Girardi said. “He’s played a lot. It’s not like he hasn’t played a lot. Before Russell got hurt, he had a pretty good two or three week stretch when he was an offensive factor again. We’ve just got to get him back to that.”
• Girardi said Austin Romine caught a bullpen recently and could be in games within a week or two.
• Brett Gardner is supposed to start taking dry swings in the next few days, but Girardi wasn’t sure exactly when.
• Still no update on David Aardsma. Girardi said the Yankees are waiting for Dr. Lewis Yocum to review Aardsma’s latest test results because it was Yocum who performed his Tommy John surgery last year.
• Joba Chamberlain threw a bullpen today in preparation for Friday’s sim game.
Associated Press photo