Even after a three-game losing streak, with a division lead that’s dwindling by the day, Joe Girardi usually handles himself with a calm patience. But occasionally, his frustration comes through. Perhaps that’s what happened tonight, when just as Girardi was beginning his postgame interview outside the Yankees clubhouse, a White Sox fan walked through the downstairs corridor and shouted taunts at the Yankees manager.
Fan: “Yankees suck! Hey Girardi, you bum!”
Girardi: “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Shut up! I’m doing an interview!” (while forcing himself through the crowd of media to walk toward the fan)
Fan: “You ex-Cub! You bum!” (shouting over Girardi)
Girardi: “Do something, would you? Shut this guy up.” (to a security guard who was sitting motionless)
Girardi‘s patience bothers on some people, and his tendency to defend his players rubs some folks the wrong way, but deep down, Girardi is a fiery guy. He might try to say the right thing in most public situations, but you can bet he wasn’t happy with a three-game sweep in Chicago, and he certainly knows that the Rays have cut the division lead to three games. That’s the smallest the Yankees lead has been since June 25. Tomorrow is the team’s first off day after playing 20 days in a row.
“It was really good until these last three days,” Girardi said. “We didn’t pitch the first two games, and today we didn’t hit. That’s the unfortunate thing. It’s a tough stretch we were in — a lot of late nights, some long games — but we’re through it. We get a day off tomorrow, hopefully the guys will rest up and we play better in Cleveland.”
Tonight was a tip-your-cap game given the way Chris Sale pitched, but no one feels like tipping a cap after three straight losses. It might be easier to swallow if the Yankees had held onto their leads in the first two games of this series, but they didn’t. Fifteen of the Yankees 19 losses since the All-Star break have come by three runs or less. Close losses, but losses just the same.
“This one’s over,” Derek Jeter said. “Like I said, you don’t look at the standings in April, May, June, July, August. I just never have. I think it’s too early. We still have 30-something games. It would concern you if you’re chasing somebody and you don’t have the chance to play them, because then you don’t control it. But we play everyone. It’s going to be tough, but all the teams that are close to us, we play. And if we win, we win.”
• Pretty good start out of Phil Hughes, but he missed his spot on a fastball to Alex Rios, and Rios hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the sixth, just a half inning after the Yankees had tied it. “Sale’s been tough all year for a reason,” Hughes said. “You knew if he was on, you had to be pretty close to perfect. And I wasn’t perfect. You’ve got to tip your cap to him. He threw a great game. The mistake to Rios is the difference in the ballgame. It wasn’t in as far as I wanted it to be, and that cost us.”
• Hughes has a career 1.38 ERA against the White Sox. Seven of his 11 starts since June 26 have lasted at least seven innings.
• On replay it looked like the Dewayne Wise bunt single in the third should have been an out, but it didn’t really matter. The bunt would have moved the runner to third base anyway, which would have setup the sacrifice fly regardless. “It didn’t end up costing me because I just had to get an extra out,” Hughes said. “You figure Youkilis sac fly scores the guy anyway with one out. The bunt would have gotten him to third with one out.”
• Hughes guessed that he threw 20 changeups tonight, including five in a row to Wise in the seventh inning, Hughes’ final batter of the night.
• On the other wise, Sale is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his past eight starts at U.S. Cellular field. He was really, really good tonight. Mark Teixiera compared it to facing a closer in three different at-bats. “He’s got a funky motion,” Jeter said. “He’s especially tough on lefties. He throws hard, you know? His fastball moves. A lot of offspeed pitches, which is surprising considering how hard he throws. He can overpower you when he needs to. We didn’t get much going on against him. He’s been doing it to most of the league, so he was better than us today.”
• Jeter has homered in three straight games for the first time in his career. Yesterday’s home run pulled him into a career tie with Joe Torre, and today’s passed Torre. Jeter said he talked to Torre yesterday. “I told him I should have been hitting fourth all those years he was here,” Jeter said.
• Teixeira has a hit in 12 of his past 13 games, batting .314 with three doubles, three homers and eight RBI. Teixiera‘s double, Jeter‘s home run and a pair of hits by Robinson Cano were the Yankees only hits tonight.
• Final word goes to Swisher: “No, not really (worried). I don’t know, that’s not my style. Maybe somebody else is, but not me, man. I know the talent we have in here and I know what we’re capable of doing. It’s just not coming out right now. That off day for us tomorrow couldn’t come at a better time. 20 in a row for us, we need a little break, get our minds right back and get ready for a killer series in Cleveland.”
Associated Press photos