I never mentioned Derek Jeter’s name tonight, and I wasn’t expecting it when I heard it. Brett Gardner was answering a question about whether the past few games — past few weeks really — have begun to wear on the players in the Yankees clubhouse. He started talking about that Mets series. Then he mentioned those wins in Seattle. Then he stated the obvious about the offense being in a significant funk.
Then Gardner said this:
“One thing I’ve really learned from Jeet over the years. He’s not here right now, but he’s been so good at being able to turn the page. Doesn’t matter if you go 5-for-5 or 0-for-5, or if we win or lose, we’ve got a game tomorrow. As soon as we walk out of here tonight, we’ve got to focus on getting ready to play tomorrow.”
The Yankees have been stuck on the same page for a while now. It’s probably overstating to say that this sustained rut is because the Yankees are playing without Jeter, but YES Network researcher Jeff Quagliata came up with an interesting nugget: The Yankees now have their second streak of at least seven games without scoring more than four runs. Last time they had two such streaks in the same season was 1991.
“I think (turning the page) is one of the things that made (Jeter) so successful,” Gardner said. “And as a leader of this team, it rubs off on other people. Guys that get to play with him see that. It’s obviously easier said than done, but what happened today, yesterday, the last few days, there’s nothing we can do about it. So we come out here tomorrow and try and get on Tommy Hanson early.”
Joe Girardi isn’t one to suddenly rip into his team and say he’s lost faith in them, so there were none of those sort of manager comments tonight. And the clubhouse is full of veterans who have made careers of believing they’ll get a hit their next at-bat, so there were no comments of outright defeat. Absolutely no one is denying that the offense has been horrible. The only question is, can this team turn the page?
“It’s not like guys aren’t working and trying to get better,” Vernon Wells said. “It’s just a period that we’re going through. Earlier in the year, we had so many different guys stepping up and getting big hits and we were rolling with it, doing it as a team. Unfortunately, we’re doing it as a team on the other side, too.”
The reality of this situation is hard to miss. And apparently it’s hard to erase.
“I don’t see anything different in the approach that we’ve had all year,” Girardi said. “Our hitters have not changed who they are, in a sense, in their approach. We’re just not getting results. … I don’t think they’re playing to their capabilities. I think they’re better hitters than they’ve shown. I believe that. But I don’t really see them going outside or swinging at pitches over their head. I don’t see a lot of hat. Maybe you’re a little bit out front maybe you’re a little bit behind, you know. The results are not there.”
• As you might expect, Andy Pettitte blamed himself. “You can’t go out and give up four or five runs when you’re pitching, you’re going to lose,” Pettitte said. “That’s really just the way it is. When you’re struggling, you need somebody to go out there and throw some zeros up, and I wasn’t able to do that tonight and wasn’t able to get it done.”
• Pettitte said he actually felt really good tonight, just thought he failed to execute some key pitches. Basically, if you’ve ever heard Pettitte talk about one of his loses, then you’ve heard him talk about this one. He wasn’t awful, but he had the stuff to be better. “I don’t want to go out ever and give up four runs,” Pettitte said. “I feel like with the stuff I had tonight, I should go out there and just give up a couple of runs in seven innings, no matter how good that offense is over there.”
• Last night’s game was in Pettitte’s mind when he took the mound. “I was just trying to be aggressive,” he said. “After the game yesterday, I was just trying to be real aggressive. Wanted to be aggressive with all my pitches, hopefully get them to put the ball in play early and give us some length. I felt pretty good. The big thing was two outs, couldn’t get guys.”
• Chris Bootcheck made his Yankees debut with a one-run eighth. “The kid’s been in the big leagues,” Girardi said. “This is not his first time around. We know our bullpen has really been taxed the last two days, so I figured, we’ll go to him and give the other guys a day off. We’ll give some of them a couple of days off.”
• Here’s one thing I thought was telling: Girardi said, if it were a one-run game, he would have gone to Joba Chamberlain, presumably because Chamberlain has a better chance of throwing a scoreless inning. In other words, with a one-run game, Girardi would have been aggressive in trying to win. Down two, he went to his just promoted long man. Says a lot about the offense these days, no?
• David Adams was crushed about the popup that fell between him and Reid Brignac, helping lead to a run in the seventh. “Frick,” Adams said. “I was camped under it, I thought I heard Reid call it, I backed off. He didn’t say a word. I’m hearing things. That’s what happened. … I’m sitting right there getting ready to wave my arms; it’s no one else’s ball. I look at him, I think he’s camped, I look back, I look at him and he’s just hanging out. I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ Empty feeling, especially when the run scores.”
• Adams dismissed the fact that he and Brignac have hardly ever played together. “It doesn’t play a role,” Adams said. “This is baseball. Pop fly, it’s my ball. I need to catch the ball, bottom line.”
• Gardner was also kicking himself for being thrown out at third base on a ground ball to the shortstop. “He was playing Tex a little bit pull, shoot, everybody does,” Gardner said. “But I thought it was hit harder and I thought it was in the hole off the bat. Obviously I was wrong. Just a bad read.”
• Was the team dragging after last night? “It was a long day, but we know there’s another game,” Pettitte said. “I felt like everybody was pretty upbeat. I know that I was ready to get out there and pitch and excited about it. There’s no doubt that’s a long day, a lot of guys probably running on fumes a little bit, but we don’t have an off day until Monday so hopefully we’ll come out here and be ready to play.”
• Final word goes to Wells: “We did have some opportunities; not nearly as many as we did yesterday. If we want to win games, we have to score more than two runs. … We haven’t been able to add on, and that’s the key to wining games. You score runs early and you continue to add on from there. We haven’t done it and that’s why we’re in the position where we are and not winning games.”
Associated Press photos