The way the Yankees swung the bats this weekend, home field wasn’t much of an advantage. A lineup that’s supposed to be built for this place managed just four hits in Game 2, and the Yankees scored in only one of 21 innings this weekend. By the time the final out was recorded, Yankee Stadium was no longer a friendly place to play.
“Our fans haven’t had much to cheer about, so you can’t blame them,” Alex Rodriguez said. “You have to blame us. If was sitting there I would be perplexed too. We didn’t score any runs. What the hell are we going to cheer about?”
For the most part, the Yankees seem to be at a loss to explain the offensive struggles. Joe Girardi said it’s a matter of making adjustments. Kevin Long said his team needs to regroup. Mark Teixeira talked about not getting some break. Russell Martin said the off day is coming at a good time.
Is it possible going on the road is actually better at this point?
“Maybe, man,” Nick Swisher said. “I’ve been so fortunate to be here and play every day. When things kind of turn like that, it kind of hurts a little bit. This is the type of city and crowd that really rallies around their team. That’s the reason we’ve got 27 championships. To go through a stretch like this where it’s kind of a negative attitude, a negative-type setting, that’s tough. But hey, that’s part of the game. Rightfully so. There are a lot of expectations here and I guess when you don’t get the job done, you’re going to hear about it.”
The Yankees have heard plenty, and they’ve given reason to hear it.
Tonight was kind of an extreme version of the Yankees postseason as a whole: Hiroki Kuroda was brilliant on short rest, there were a few breaks that went the wrong way — blown call at second, hard-hit ball knocked down by the pitcher — but ultimately, it came down to the offense being terrible again.
It’s become a familiar story, and not a pleasant one. We’ve all seen this lineup struggle before, but now it’s happening in the postseason, and everyone — the players, coaches and fans — seem to know what happens if this continues.
“We’ve been through stretches like this all year,” Rodriguez said. “It has been a very volatile stock market for us this year. You just hope you take a day off and come back with a lot of energy and turn it around. … It may start with a change of scenery. I think getting a day of rest tomorrow, take a deep breath, everybody come out and not try to do too much, let the river flow a little bit. We’ve been used to this type of hostile environment and having our backs against the wall, but I’ll tell you what, our heads are not going to go down.”
• Can’t say enough about Kuroda, who was masterful while pitching on short rest for the first time. “When I signed with the Yankees, I came here to help this team win and that’s what I’m doing right now,” Kuroda said. “So if they ask me to pitch again, I’ll do it (no) differently because today I only have three days rest and I pitched really well. If I have to do it again, I’m going to push the next game (the same) as this, that it will be the last game of my career. That’s the same approach I’ve taken all my professional career.”
• How did it feel to thrive in that situation? “I felt kind of numb out there,” Kuroda said. “Rather than feeling good or bad, I just wanted to get the next hitter. That’s how I felt out there today. … I tried not to think about the days of rest that I had, because that’s going to put pressure on myself, mentally. So I tried to just be aggressive.”
• Russell Martin on Kuroda: “He was outstanding today. For a while there, I felt like he was going to throw a no-hitter. He had great stuff, great command and good composure out there. You really cant ask for anything more than what he did. … I expected him to go out there and give his best stuff and that’s exactly what he had. He had great stuff. He threw the ball like a champ. We just didn’t do enough for him.”
• Robinson Cano has now gone hitless in his past 26 at-bats, the longest postseason stretch of hitless at-bats in Yankees postseason history according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Wade Boggs, Frank Crosetti, Whitey Ford and Dave Winfield each went hitless in 22 straight at-bats.
• The MLB record is 42 straight hitless postseason at-bats by Seattle’s Dan Wilson.
• How does Cano get so cold after he finished the season so hot? “I’ve been chasing a few pitches, but I’ve also been hitting the ball hard, just right at people,” Cano said. “There’s nothing you can do, just go out there and keep playing hard. I’m hitting some of the balls right at people. You see it yesterday with the bases loaded and it hits off the pitcher’s hand. That’s no excuse. You just forget about these two games and get ready for Tuesday.”
• The Yankees final hit was a single by Rodriguez, who said he was encouraged by his 1-for-4. “The last two at-bats were much better for me,” he said. “As long as you make solid contact and have something to build on. I feel good, and I think I can build on that.”
• I’ll probably have more on this at some point, but Swisher was pretty emotional talking about the fans in right field the past two nights. “Last night was pretty (bad),” he said. “A lot of people saying a lot of things that I’ve never heard before. Prime example: I missed that ball in the lights and the next thing you know, I’m the reason that Jeter got hurt. It’s kind of frustrating.”
• Kevin Long said Anibal Sanchez pitched exactly as the Yankees expected, leaning heavily on his changeup and staying away with offspeed pitches. “Staying away from us mostly, coming in for effect,” Mark Teixiera said. “Coming in just to kind of keep us off enough. He had three pitches working today, actually four pitches because he threw me a really good curveball, and he doesn’t throw a lot of big slow curveballs. But he had the slider, he had the change up and obviously the fastball up to 95.”
• Although his team didn’t score a run, Girardi was still furious about that blown call in the eighth inning. It opened the door to two insurance runs for the Tigers. “It’s different if it’s 1-0 than 3-0,” Girardi said. “It’s a lot easier for a reliever to relax. He knows if he makes one mistake, it is still 3-1. I am not saying we win the game if the call’s right. I am not saying that. And I am not saying if the call was right (on Cano’s play at first) last night that we win the game last night either. But in this day and age, there is too much at stake, and the technology is available. That’s what our country has done. We have evolved technology to make things better.”
• Cano on his failed attempt to turn a double play in the seventh, which led to the Tigers first run. “I didn’t get a grip on the ball,” Cano said. “I looked at the replay, and I would say he might have been safe (even if the play were made cleanly). That’s no excuse. I didn’t get a grip on the ball.”
• Girardi made it clear that he wanted to stay away from his top relievers tonight, and he did that. Joba Chamberlain got in the game — obviously he’s healthy enough to pitch — and Cody Eppley pitched well, but neither Dave Robertson nor Rafael Soriano pitched.
• Girardi made it clear that Phil Hughes will start Game 3. There will be no change to start CC Sabathia on short rest. “I think had the game been tied or we had a lead, I think both of us would have thrown,” Robertson said. “Just didn’t work out that way. Get an extra days rest and get ready to go into Detroit. … Yeah, you get a little sore. I think everybody does. I think if you ask everyone in this locker room, they’re all going to tell you they’re a little sore, but it doesn’t matter. When it comes down to the postseason, you go out there and pitch and you give it everything you’ve got.”
• The Yankees will not have a workout tomorrow and will fly to Detroit tomorrow evening so that the team can have a real off day. Girardi will be in Illinois for his father’s funeral. He said players have asked about coming. “Guys have asked me about it and I told them, ‘rest, rest,’” Girardi said.
• What was it like to play a playoff game without Derek Jeter in the dugout? “It’s strange,” Girardi said. “It was strange when in May I looked at the lineup card and Mo wasn’t on the lineup card on my pitcher’s card. It is strange not to see this man on any of your cards. There’s days where I have given him a day off, but it’s unusual. As far as bringing us down, no. I think the guys want to do it for him. I really do. So I think the energy level was good.”
• Final word goes to Rodriguez: “It’s definitely not an ideal situation. We’d rather be up 2-0 and facing a Triple-A pitcher. That would be nice. But again, we’ve done it all year. A lot of people counted us out. It seems like we thrive on coming back. But no one in this clubhouse will put their head down. We got to keep on fighting no matter how tough things get and we’ll be back on Tuesday.”
Associated Press photos