One turn through the rotation, Andy Pettitte is the only Yankees starter to have pitched more than five innings. He’s also the only Yankees starter to have given Mariano Rivera a save opportunity, and Pettitte did that without counting on any of the Yankees other relievers, four of whom — five if you count demoted Cody Eppley — have a WHIP above 2.00.
Everyone knew coming out of spring training that this depleted lineup might struggle scoring runs, but the pitching staff was supposed to give the Yankees a fighting chance. Five games into the season, it hasn’t.
“These guys will throw the ball better,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m convinced of that.”
I didn’t think Phil Hughes looked too bad today, especially when you consider he had not faced major league hitters since last year’s ALCS. He made all of his spring training starts at the minor league complex, which means the first big leaguers he faced were Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera. Hughes managed to make big pitches when he needed them — especially against Prince Fielder in the third — before things started to unravel in the fifth.
When the bullpen came in to relieve him, the relief wasn’t much.
“In spring training, we looked at a strength of our club being our pitching, and we’ve gotten off to slow start,” Hughes said. “There’s nothing more to it than that. We have to do a better job as starters, and keep our team in the game. There’s still a lot of season obviously, and still a lot of time to turn things around.”
It’s true. It’s incredibly and obviously true. But right here, right now, the Yankees lineup is depleted and its pitching staff is not able to pick up the slack.
“You know, this is baseball,” Francisco Cervelli said. “I think it’s better that it happens now. We know this situation is going to change. We’ve got a really strong pitching staff. They’re going to come and make the adjustments. They know how they can do things well.”
• Hughes said his problem in the fifth inning didn’t have to do with fatigue, it was about making bad pitches. “I sort of pitched Austin backwards to lead off the inning, which looking back on it, wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Hughes said. “So having him on, you’re trying to get a double play ball right there so Cabrera’s up in a situation where he can’t do a lot of damage. But then I didn’t make a good pitch to Hunter, and from there the inning kind of gets out of hand.”
• Girardi on the decision to go to Logan to face Prince Fielder in that inning: “Until yesterday, Boonie’s had a lot of success against Fielder. He’s got two lefties, he’s got a switch hitter, in the next three hitters, and you want to try to keep the game right there if we can. If you keep the game right there, we win the game. That’s the bottom line. That’s why I did it.”
• Logan said yesterday that he’s fully healthy, and Girardi said the same thing tonight. “You wouldn’t see 93s and 94s if he wasn’t healthy,” Girardi said. Here’s Cervelli on Logan: “It’s not different. I think it’s early. He will be better. He’s going to make the adjustments. He’s there. He’s throwing 95, 96. He’s going to be fine.”
• If you were watching, you must have noticed Girardi and Tony Pena shouting at the umpires in the sixth. “I think Albuquerque balks every time,” Girardi said. “One time his foot goes up twice. One time it goes up once. If a guy’s trying to steal a base and he goes up twice one time and goes up once one time, if you’re going to squeeze, you don’t know when to go as the runner. I think it’s a balk.”
• Hughes said he felt good despite the odd, unexpected call to pitch in the big leagues. “Felt good early on,” he said. “I think it just came down to executing pitches in the big spots. Obviously the fifth inning was a big inning, and I didn’t make pitches when I had to — that was that outing in a nutshell.”
• Eduardo Nunez wasn’t able to hit today. “I tried to throw, tried to hit, but I can’t,” Nunez said. “I hope I can do it tomorrow.”
• New left fielder Vernon Wells hit his second home run of the season. New third baseman Kevin Youkilis hit the 250th double of his career and third of the season. New first baseman Vernon Wells had two hits and his second two-RBI game of the year. In reality, a lot of the fill-in guys have played pretty well.
• Girardi on the blown opportunity in the second when Brennan Boesch was thrown out at the plate: “You expect to score more there, but it didn’t happen and you have to find a way to not let that keep you from winning the game. Things are going to happen like that, and people are going to get thrown out at home, but you’ve got to move on from it. … Whenever you’re a coach and something doesn’t work out the way you want it to, it’s always easy to second-guess yourself.”
• Wells laughed about being called safe on that first-base play when Fielder clearly beat him to the bag. “I thought he stepped on the bag,” Girardi said. “I never looked at a replay, but I thought he stepped on the bag. I thought maybe we were going to get a break.”
• A final word from Girardi on the early struggles of Robinson Cano: “I don’t go back and watch every at-bat. I haven’t seen him look like he’s chased a lot, but it’s hard for me to tell in and out. At times it looks like he’s reaching a little bit. I don’t know if he’s out in front or if it’s off the plate.”
Associated Press photos