Standing in the back of the visiting clubhouse, Andy Pettitte wasn’t happy, which should come as a shock to no one. Pettitte pitched pretty well tonight, but standing there postgame he ripped himself for hitting Jose Molina and for a bad sequence to Ben Zobrist. He’d taken his first loss of the season, and he wasn’t happy about it.
But after taking himself to task, Pettitte said the most indisputable thing of the night.
“Their kid threw a great game and we weren’t able to do much,” Pettitte said. “There’s not a whole lot more than that on this one.”
Alex Cobb was terrific — “He didn’t make any mistakes,” Joe Girardi said — and for the third day in a row, the Yankees offense had serious trouble with this Rays pitching staff. It should come as no surprise, considering the Rays have a terrific rotation and some power arms in the bullpen, but this was a three-game series in which the Yankees had just one extra-base hit. In their two losses, they had a total of six hits.
“I mean, it’s the same thing if we play Toronto or Boston, it seems like,” Brett Gardner said. “Every night we’re facing one of the best. … We’ve got real good pitching, too. We needed to give Andy a lead tonight and couldn’t do it.”
At one point, Cobb retired 19 of 20, and the one exception was a Jayson Nix single erased by a double play. The Yankees put two on in the second, but Cobb didn’t let the led runner past second base. The Yankees got two more on in the ninth, but Fernando Rodney got Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner — basically, the hitters the Yankees would want at the plate in that moment — to preserve the lead.
That was it. That was the extent of the offense. Pettitte was hard on himself, but he gave the Yankees seven innings of three-run ball. Not perfect, obviously, but not devastating either.
“You’re going to have to make the most of your opportunities against this team,” Joe Girardi said.
Thing is, the Yankees really didn’t give themselves many opportunities and never had much of a chance.
• After the hit by pitch and the Brennan Boesch error in the fifth, Pettitte got two strikeouts before giving up Zobrist’s two-run double on a 2-1 curveball. “It wasn’t over the middle of the plate,” Pettitte said. “It was just really not a great sequence for me. It wasn’t a terrible pitch, but obviously it was the wrong pitch at that time, I think.” Asked to go into detail about why it was a bad sequence — fastball, slider, slider, curveball — Pettitte refused. “Just a bad sequence,” he said.
• What happened to Boesch on that Kelly Johnson single to right? “I just came up too quick,” he said. “Maybe at the corner of my eye (watching Jose Molina running from first to second). Just came up too quick; 99 out of 100 times you make it, and just happened to be that today it didn’t work out. Like I said, you just move on, try to pick the team up with your bat or make a play.”
• How did the error affect Pettitte? “The only thing that changed is I’m thinking to concede a run right here,” Pettitte said. “You still want to make pitches, but you don’t want it to turn into a big inning. If I give up one there, we can handle that. Like I said, if it’s first and second, you’re still looking for the ground ball. My mindset is exactly the same. Obviously I didn’t get the ground ball; I had two strikeouts and a chance to get out of it and I didn’t do it. That was obviously really the game right there.”
• Pettitte actually has much better career numbers against Evan Longoria than against Zobrist, but with first base open, Pettitte said he never considered walking Zobrist to face Longoria. Would have been pretty risky, obviously. “I’m just trying to get him out,” Pettitte said. “I have no idea what my numbers are on him. I really just felt good tonight. I wasn’t concerned with who was up there; I was just trying to make pitches.”
• Would Pettitte have changed his approach had he known the career numbers? “No. I feel like everybody is hitting over .300 off me in their career, to tell you the truth,” he said.
• One bright side, Eduardo Nunez looked great at shortstop tonight. “Two tremendous plays,” Girardi said. “As good as it gets. You look at both of them, going each way. … A lot of arm strength and a lot of accuracy.”
• Was Girardi planning to pull Pettitte when he went to the mound in the sixth? “I just wanted to make sure he had something left,” Girardi said.
• In his ninth-inning at-bat, Cano rolled over a changeup from Rodney. “I was looking for the changeup,” Cano said. “But also, you don’t want to take just in case he throws you a fastball down the middle.”
Associated Press photos