Mark Teixeira said he had no choice but to slide into first base tonight. His strained left calf was hurting him more than expected, and he didn’t think he could keep running.
“I don’t think I’ve ever dove into first base in my life,” he said. “But I just couldn’t get there running. I did my best, I got there, but the call didn’t go our way.”
Replays suggest Teixeira was right. He beat the play at first base, the tying run should have scored and the game should have continued.
“It’s not a bang-bang play,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s safe. He’s clearly safe. Jerry (Meals) missed it. You hate to lose a game that way, but he missed it.”
Girardi walked out of the dugout after the call, but the game was over, the Orioles were celebrating and the umpires were walking off the field. Both Girardi and Teixeira said they felt it did no good to put up a real argument. Teixiera said he simply told Meals, “You got me again,” because Teixeira also felt robbed by the strike-three call in the eight. He felt he should have been on base when Alex Rodriguez homered that inning.
“We could have had a big inning there and a questionable call on me as well,” Teixeira said. “And in the ninth, sometimes you wonder if the umpires are just trying to get out of there. They don’t want you to make a comeback, they want to go home, because those are terrible calls. It is what it is, but we’re out there fighting, I’m out there playing on one leg, and I wish it would have gone my way.”
Big picture, it’s the “one leg” comment that should be of greater concern. Teixeira said his left calf was tight all game, especially on that ninth-inning grounder to second. He doesn’t expect to play tomorrow, and said it’s too early to know how much of a setback this is.
“Not as good as I thought it was going to be,” he said. “Tried to go out there and play through it, but it obviously wasn’t where I hoped it would be. … If you wait until you’re 100 percent to play, you might never play. Really. That’s just the way sports is. My whole career I’ve played through things. I’ve been able to protect certain things, and when you need to take a couple of days off, you do. I took 10 games off, and I felt like it was time to test it out. I felt like I was good enough in the work I had been doing.”
“I feel good,” Sabathia insisted. “I can’t sit here and make excuses and say I’m hurting. I went out there and pitched. I just didn’t pitch well.”
Girardi said the same thing. He was asked three times whether Sabathia was healthy, and all three times he said yes. But Sabathia has been on the disabled list twice this season, and he’s not pitching nearly as well as he has in the past. It seems fair to question whether there’s an injury. The Yankees, though, are universal in saying Sabathia is physically fine, just struggling.
“(Velocity) was pretty good last game in Tampa,” Sabathia said. “Before that I think it was about the same. Like I said, it has nothing to do with velocity, health or anything like that. It’s just about me making pitches and going out and shutting a team down when we get the lead.”
• Truly bizarre clubhouse postgame, starting with a shouting match between Girardi and a reporter. The two had a brief exchange during Girardi’s postgame press conference, and when they spoke again in Girardi’s office, things got heated. I didn’t see it, only heard it.
• Team president Randy Levine made it known that he wanted all the beat writers on a conference call after the game, but we were told that the call couldn’t happen because Levine’s phone lost service (or went dead, something like that). He wound up telling YES Network that tonight’s blown call is proof that baseball needs instant replay.
• In the moment, the bigger story is the blown call at first base, and for tomorrow, it’s the status of Teixeira’s left calf. But big picture, the Yankees have to be wondering what’s going on with Sabathia. “I didn’t really recognize the (decreased) velocity as much,” Russell Martin said. “But normally the two-seamer has a little more action to it. I felt like he was searching for that. He never really got that two-seamer to work for him. … His slider wasn’t as effective as usual, his slider wasn’t consistent. I just feel like he didn’t have the best feel for his pitches. It was a battle.”
• Martin suggested that Sabathia might have been trying to generate velocity, costing him command. Sabathia said that wasn’t the case. “I’m trying to go in and not make mistakes,” he said. “Every time I tried to go in to a righty pretty much, today everything was up. And I felt good playing catch, felt good in the bullpen, felt good in the game. It’s just a matter of me figuring out my delivery and making sure I’m consistent and making pitches.”
• Say this much for Sabathia, he’s not walking guys. He had no walks tonight and hasn’t walked more than two batters in any of his past 15 starts, his longest such streak since 21 consecutive starts with two or fewer walks in 2007, his Cy Young season.
• Mark Reynolds homered again tonight. It was his seventh of the season against the Yankees, the most by any opponent this year and the most since Vernon Wells hit seven homers against them in 2010. “I’ve seen him good, but I haven’t seen him hot like this,” Martin said. “I feel like everything we do, it’s like he’s reading our minds out there. We’re trying our best to contain him but he’s not missing.”
• Hard as it is to believe, the Orioles at 62-0 when leading after seven innings this season. If the Yankees had completed the comeback and won, it would have been their first such loss of the season. Unreal.
• Nick Swisher went 0-for-5 and is now hitless in his past 24 at-bats.
• Curtis Granderson stayed in the game to hit against lefty Brian Matusz in the eighth but ended the inning with a popup. “He’s had a lot of success off of Matusz,” Girardi said. “He just took him deep at our place the other day. You’re looking for a big hit there. He had some good swings.”
• Final word and a fair point goes to Martin: “I didn’t really feel like we lost the game, I feel like we got cheated out of it. But once again, it’s part of the game of baseball. Umpires are human. They’re going to make mistakes, and we made our share of mistakes today. That’s probably one of the reasons why we lost the game today too.”
Associated Press photos