Of all people, it was Mark Teixeira who immediately found big picture perspective on just how bad 0-for-28 really is.
“That’s a no-hitter,” Teixeira said.
Think about that. When a pitcher throws a no-hitter, it means 27 outs without a hit. The Yankees 4 through 7 hitters were one out worse than that. Plus they had 12 strikeouts, nine of which came in extra innings. It was a brutal showing for an offense that has been trending downward for the better part of a month and a half, and tonight it just kept finding new levels of rock bottom with every run-scoring opportunity.
“You have to come up with big hits,” Vernon Wells said. “We had a few opportunities to do it, but obviously collectively as a big group we were pretty bad at it.”
Travis Hafner has five hits in his past 14 games, and you could make the case that his slump is the least significant of the bunch (he still has the third-highest OPS on the roster). Wells is hitting .185 with seven extra-base hits since the end of April. Teixeira has 19 strikeouts in 49 at-bats since joining the team. Kevin Youkilis is hitting .146 with one RBI since coming off the disabled list.
“I haven’t done the right things, and I’ve got to do better,” Youkilis said. “There’s no other explanation but you’ve got to play better.”
This was surely as bad as it gets — if only because those four surely won’t get 28 at-bats in another game — but Teixeira is still working his way back into a rhythm, and the other three are older players coming off down seasons. Aside from Teixeira saying he felt better this series than he felt in Seattle, there’s really no indication that things are about to turn around except for the perpetual optimism of veteran players who always believe they’ll be able to come through the next time.
“In theory, you’d like half your guys — if they’re going to be struggling — that the other guys are still swinging the bat well,” Wells said. “For the most part, it’s been the whole group. Gardy’s been the most consistent over this last week and a half, two weeks. Now Robbie is starting to swing the bat. We’ll start getting some guys going here and there, come together as a group and start swinging the bats a little better.”
It’s certainly hard to imagine them swinging the bats any worse.
• The one sliver of positive news is that Derek Jeter was cleared to run and intensify baseball activities. “He’ll start doing baseball activities, trying to do more and more each day,” Girardi said. “As long as everything is positive, he’ll continue to move forward.”
• The bad news for someone is that the Yankees will have to add at least one pitcher tomorrow. “I’m sure we’ll have to make a few moves,” Girardi said. Nothing fair about it, but Preston Claiborne, Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley each have options. It seems entirely possible that Warren pitched so well that he’ll have to go to Triple-A for a fresh long man. Probably wouldn’t be the case if he’d blown the game in the 11th.
• Looks like CB Bucknor made the right call at the plate in the third inning. He ruled that Chris Stewart had pulled the ball out of the glove when he applied the tag, and replay certainly indicated as much. I thought Stewart might have also made contact with the ball on the play, but Stewart said he did not. If the ball wasn’t in the glove, then the runner was safe. “It was kind of a short hop so I caught it in the stomach area,” Stewart said. “I didn’t really catch it in my glove. I caught it together with my bare hand. I thought I went to tag him with both. The ball was in my bare hand, but I thought it was with my glove, and I thought I tagged him with both. But he said he saw the ball outside the glove when I was tagging him, so he called him safe.”
• Pretty good play by Stewart in the 15th. Stewart said he was fine, only jogged back to the dugout because, in the heat of the moment, he thought it was the third out. He wasn’t disoriented or anything. “As soon as I released it, it was kind of just slow motion,” Wells said. “I was like, ‘This is not going to end well for Stew.’ He made a heck of a play. It takes a strong man to stand there with that big a guy coming down the line coming after you.”
• Did Wells have a play at third base in the 18th? It certainly looked like he did, and Girardi declined to give his opinion. Here’s what Wells said about it: “I think Mo was covering on that last one. You can’t really take the chance. He had a great read on it, so if I go to third, the guy moves up. We ended up walking him anyway to load the bases. That’s smart base running; you want to try to force a throw to third so the guy can move up.” Not entirely sure what the guy going to second has to do with it, but there you have it.
• The only thing Girardi said about tomorrow’s lineup was that Austin Romine will be playing. “My head was in it, but my legs started to feel it a little in the 15th, 16th,” Stewart said. “By that point you’re just running fumes and trying to do whatever you can to get the game over and have your time win.”
• Hiroki Kuroda gave up two runs in the third, then retired the next 16 in a row. He became the third Japanese-born pitcher to record 1,000 or more career innings. He passed that milestone after the second. “I struggled in that inning, but that was the only inning in which I struggled so I was able to get outs overall,” Kuroda said. “I think it was a good outing, a positive outing.”
• And a terrific effort by Warren, who hadn’t pitched in a while but went six scoreless, including a big strikeout to get out of the 15th. He threw 85 pitches, which is why I wonder if he’ll be sent out tomorrow. “Every inning was kind of a max effort, because you just want to leave it all out there,” Warren said. “I knew I was going to go five innings, or until my pitch count got up there. I was trying to get some early outs, keep my pitch count down, and try to get as many as I could.”
• Girardi said he went to Rivera because Preston Claiborne was at 17 pitches and had thrown the previous two nights in a row. This was three straight for the first time for Claiborne. “I’m not going to hurt someone, that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “I thought (Claiborne)’s fastball was down a couple of ticks, and I thought I’d bring in Mo who has not pitched in a while, and it did not work out.”
• By the way, both of the hits off Rivera were broken bats.
• Final word goes to Girardi: “I think (a loss with a lot of runners on base) is a little more frustrating because you can look at that you had an opportunity here, you had an opportunity there. There’s going to be a lot of guys probably look at that, but it doesn’t change the result. The bottom line is, we didn’t get it done.”
Associated Press photos