How much do you make of one at-bat? Is a three-run, game-winning double by Jayson Nix enough to believe a career .210 hitter can help fill the Alex Rodriguez void? Is a come-from-behind win in Seattle enough make you believe Eric Chavez just might stay healthy enough, and Nix just might be productive enough, and the Yankees just might win enough to weather these next few weeks?
“This is a great team with a lot of really good players,” Nix said. “I think what makes it so great is that nobody tries to do too much, everybody just tries to do their job, and that’s all I try to do.”
Nix was on the bench again today. A right-hander on the mound meant Chavez was at third base, but during the seventh inning, Nix went to the indoor batting cage to stretch and hit. He’d pinch hit just twice this season, but Nix is also used to this role. He said he realized there were a bunch of lefties coming up, so he wanted to get himself ready just in case.
“This is a professional guy who really works hard at playing the four positions that we ask him to play,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s always prepared. I looked at him and I said, ‘Are you prepared to hit?’ And he said, ‘Yes I am.’ He’d already swung in the cage, stretched. I’m real happy with him.”
Nix saw five straight sliders from a right-handed reliever. He was really brought in to setup a favorable matchup for Chavez, who was on deck, but Nix drove the fifth slider to left-center field for a three-run, bases-clearing, go-ahead double.
“I don’t know how he does it,” Derek Jeter said. “To be quite honest with you, that’s a talent that I don’t think I have, sitting around all day and then coming up and getting a hit in a big situation. It’s tough to sit around and then go up there and hit. That was a big hit for us. Jayson works hard.”
There’s a chance the right-handed half of this platoon with be Eduardo Nunez at some point, and there’s a chance the Yankees will make some sort of trade to help fill the void, but for now it’s Nix. And for at least one day, Nix seemed as good an option as anyone.
“Whenever I get my chances, whenever they are, I hope to be able to do something positive,” he said. “To be able to come through today was good.”
• How’s that new top of the order looking? “It was good today,” Girardi said. “I’m not sure what we’ll do against the lefty on Saturday, but I do like it.” Leadoff man Ichiro Suzuki had a hit for a third straight day, and No. 2 hitter Jeter went 3-for-4 with a home run and the hit-by-pitch that started that eighth-inning rally.
• Girardi indicated that he might switch up the top of the order against left-handed pitching, and Nick Swisher indicated that he fully expects to be ready by the time the Yankees face a lefty starter on Saturday. Actually, Swisher is hoping to play Friday. He ran and took indoor batting practice today. He’ll go to Yankee Stadium for more hitting and running tomorrow. “I feel good,” Swisher said. “I’ve done everything they’ve told me to do. We’ll do that workout tomorrow and Friday, we’ll see what happens. See what they say on Friday.”
• Pitching for a second straight day, Joba Chamberlain pitched a scoreless inning with High-A Tampa. He allowed an infield single and a pair of groundball outs, including one one which Chamberlain had to cover first. The runner he allowed was thrown out trying to steal against Gary Sanchez.
• By the way, breakout prospect Tyler Austin is back in the Tampa lineup today. He’s been out since being hit by a pitch on July 3.
• Eduardo Nunez started at shortstop — not third base — for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight.
• Alex Rodriguez had a soft cast on his left hand today. He said the Seattle doctor didn’t give him any sort of additional diagnosis. He’ll wait to see Dr. Ahmad tomorrow before trying to figure out how long he’ll be out. “I’ve got to talk to Ahmad, but I certainly expect to come back and come back strong,” he said. “The one good thing here is that we play through the end of October.”
• Ivan Nova allowed a career-high six walks through five innings today. He gave up just two hits, which is the reason he was able to limit the Mariners to two runs. “I didn’t really have my fastball command today,” Nova said. “I fell behind the hitters the whole game. Six walks. It wasn’t a good day for me. We got the win and I’m happy for that. … Every time we win, it don’t matter if I pitch good or not. We focus on winning games.”
• Girardi said he wasn’t sure what exactly was causing Nova’s problems. This isn’t exactly the kind of lineup you’d expect him to nibble against. “Some days it just happens,” Girardi said. “I’m sure Larry (Rothschild) could recognize what he was doing, but you never know when it’s going to happen and it happened to him today. The thing is, he didn’t break. There were a lot of opportunities where he could have gotten in a lot of trouble, then the bullpen did a tremendous job.”
• Jeter was hit by a pitch. Again. Did he think anything of it? “Did I think anything?” Jeter asked. “Yeah, it hurt. Yeah, that’s what I thought. … It would be pretty dumb to do it on purpose, leading off an inning in a one-run game. So, no.”
• Ichiro said he was happy to be on the other side of a Yankees rally. “Being on the opposing side late in the game, I saw it many times,” he said. “That pressure that they put on. I was able to see it on this team this time.”
• Ichiro on his final series in Seattle this season: “I was here 11 and a half years. I didn’t really show it, but inside I was really going through some emotional times. It was very special these last few days, but definitely emotional inside.”
• Crazy day for Ramiro Pena who woke up at 2 a.m. with a call from Dave Miley saying he’d been called up. He then caught a 9:30 a.m. flight out of Charlotte, landed in Seattle a little before noon, got caught in traffic, got to the park in the second inning, then left with the team to fly back to New York. “I’ll take it,” he said. “Good wake-up call.”
• Final word goes to Girardi: “After losing five games by a total of six runs, to be able to win a series I think was important going into an off day. Two and five is not what we want, but we won the second series of the road trip and it will be a happier plane flight.”
Associated Press photos