It struck me tonight that even the Yankees best moment was a disappointment. Hard to consider a three-run inning a letdown, but this one really was. It was three runs with only one hit in the inning. Three runs when the middle of the order had a chance to make it even bigger. Three runs when the Yankees needed four to tie the game.
“I don’t want to say it’s disappointing to get three in that inning,” Brett Gardner said. “But maybe it’s disappointing to not get something in other innings when we have opportunities. Every inning, every at-bat is an opportunity. … If we were able to scratch off one or two the first couple of innings, then that three ties it or gives us a lead. We just weren’t able to do that.”
And maybe that’s the larger truth. Every offensive disappointment is painted with this broader brush, judged in the context of just how bad this lineup has been lately.
Andy Pettitte wasn’t especially good today, and he knew it — “I feel like I’m just putting us in a hole every time out right now,” he said — but it just seems time for the offense to pick up the pitching staff a little bit, and that’s not happening.
“We play from behind because we’re not scoring runs early,” Gardner said. “It would be different if we went out and put a couple runs up in the first couple innings, but we haven’t been doing that. We were able to get those three runs in, I think it was the 6th inning, and then it got away from us again. It was just too much.”
The Yankees had just one extra-base hit tonight. Red-hot Gardner was the only Yankee to have more than one hit. When the bases were loaded for the middle of the order, the Yankees scratched out a few runs rather than making a decisive statement and taking control of the game.
“We’ve got guys that are working their butts off,” Joe Girardi said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been scoring a lot of runs lately and it’s cost us some games. These guys are working and they’re doing everything we’re asking them to do. … I’m going to say it again; these are the guys that got us 12 games over. Right now we’re struggling, and we need to get on a roll. We need to play better.”
• Girardi wasn’t especially down on Pettitte’s start. Said he didn’t make a ton of mistakes, but every mistake was hit hard. Pettitte largely agreed. “My command in the zone needs to be good, and my fastball command is not real good,” Pettitte said. “Every ball I leave in the zone, I’m giving up base hits right now. Tonight, the first couple of hitters, I couldn’t get them out. And when you can’t get the guys at the top of the lineup, obviously the guys down there as you go down have power and can drive guys in and stuff like that. Just frustrated. Just another frustrating night.”
• Pettitte indicated he might go back to throwing two bullpens between starts now that his back is feeling better. He thinks that might improve his command.
• Both Girardi and Pettitte talked about the lack of a shutdown inning after the Yankees pulled within a run in the sixth. “(Girardi) gives me a chance there to get out of that inning,” Pettitte said. “Trusting me to get out of that inning with Rodriguez up and just can’t get him out. It’s just disappointing. We’re battling. Matt walked a few guys there, I think he might have walked the bases loaded to give us a chance to score, and we get three and then I give right back another one too them. So just another frustrating outing. I just need to be better.”
• How big of a hole did 5-3 feel? “It’s obviously tougher to come back because we know they have a good back end of the bullpen,” Girardi said. “They’ve got some guys that can really get it done down there. It’s tough after you get to 4-3 and you give up that run with two outs and nobody on; those shutdown innings are so important.”
• Why pinch hit Zoilo Almonte in the ninth? “Just giving the kid an at-bat, trying to get his first hit for him,” Girardi said. “He’s had some success left handed and I just chose to do it. I gave him an at-bat last bight and he didn’t get a hit. Tried to get it out of the way. Sometimes, if you get the first one out of the way, if you’re called upon to play, it’s a lot easier.”
• Was that pinch hit an indication that Vernon Wells struggles are about to cost him playing time? “I’ll make the decision on a daily basis like I do every day,” Girardi said.
• For the second time in about a week the Yankees made a mistake on a ground ball to the shortstop. Today it was Lyle Overbay who was thrown out trying to advance from second to third only to run into a 6-5 putout. “It’s a bad read, that’s all it is,” Girardi said. “I don’t know if he thought the ball was in the hole or Longoria vacated third base. It’s just a poor read.”
• That comebacker hit Boone Logan in the meaty part of his hand. “My guess is he’ll be OK, but we’ll see tomorrow,” Girardi said.
• This is the first time this season that the Yankees lost a game after being shutout the previous night. It’s also the first time they’ve lost back-to-back games against left-handed starters. … Pettitte is winless in his past five start at Yankee Stadium. He has a 7.46 ERA in those games. … Gardner has a hit in 22 of his past 26 game since May 24.
• Final word goes to Gardner: “We haven’t been doing a real good job as an offense of getting guys on base, situational hitting, scoring runs. We need to do better at that. It’s the same thing — after every loss we say the same thing. It’s not from lack of work. It’s not from lack of guys not trying or guys not caring, that’s for sure. So we’ll continue to put our work in, come back tomorrow, and try to get a win.”
Associated Press photos