By now, we’re all familiar with Joe Girardi’s personality. He’s a loyal man, a patient man. He rarely shows frustration, and he never publicly vents at his players. Tonight was no different.
“I know it’s important and I understand, but this is a game,” Girardi said. “There are a lot of things that go on in life that are struggles that you go through and you have to figure out how to go through them. This is like life. Everything is not going to be easy, and you find ways to get through it. And I’m not going to get frustrated, and I’m going to stick up for them.”
Does it ever occur to him that he might not have the players to turn this thing around and start winning again?
“I’ll never think that way,” he said. “I didn’t think that way when I took over a bunch of young kids in Miami, and I’ll never think that way. I believe if you have a uniform on, you have a chance to produce and you’ve got a chance to go to the playoffs and win a World Series.”
Is there any chance his players are starting to feel that way?
“Look at the last inning,” Girardi said. “These guys are fighting, so I don’t think so. I don’t see it. I think these guys are fighting every day. I really do. When they make outs, they get upset and they get upset with themselves. The passion is there.”
Obviously Girardi’s “I believe in my guys” routine has grown old, but I’m honestly not sure what else he could or should say. This roster is full of two kinds of hitters: Veterans who are set in their ways, and rookies who are just trying to stick around. Which of those groups would be impacted by a fiery, over-the-top speech from a manager? These aren’t players in their prime who are underperforming and phoning it in. The only guys really in their “prime” are Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano, and those are the only two hitters doing anything on a consistent basis.
This is a team with five all-stars on the disabled list, and — surprise! — that’s hard to overcome.
“We don’t doubt ourselves,” Vernon Wells said. “We don’t lose faith in what we can do. I think given the fact that we were doing it early in the year shows that we’re capable of doing it. We just have to get back to doing it.”
• I’m sure Hiroki Kuroda didn’t mean to phrase it this way, but this is what he said about trying to pitch knowing the offense is struggling. “In this ballpark, a hitters’ ballpark, if I was able to stop those three homers and then not give up the fourth run, maybe the momentum would shift and the offense would pick me up.” So, basically, if he’d thrown a shutout, the offense would have had a chance to score enough runs to win the game. That’s essentially what he said.
• Kuroda said it was his slider that most let him down tonight. He’s now allowed five home runs in his past two starts. He’s allowed a total of seven homers in his other 15 starts. “Tonight, it was more just that his stuff wasn’t breaking,” Chris Stewart said. “The first slider to Machado was just right down the middle. It just spun, stayed up, and he hit it well. To Davis, it wasn’t a bad pitch. The curveball to McLouth just rolled in there. It wasn’t that sharp. It’s unfortunate that those balls went out of the yard, because if they stayed in the yard, it’s a whole different game. But that’s just the breaks we’re getting right now.”
• Stewart said Kuroda found his split around the third inning, and that’s what let him eventually pitch through the sixth. Initially, Stewart admitted, it didn’t look like Kuroda would last that long.
• The Yankees had a handful of scoring opportunities. Bases loaded in the second. Two on with one out in the seventh, and again in the ninth. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. “There’s nights where we have a lot of good at-bats but maybe put up three or four runs,” Travis Hafner said. “If we can just get a big knock, you’re looking at six, seven, eight runs or something like that. Overall, I think our at-bats are pretty good. I think one or two hits here or there would make a big difference.”
• Hafner also said this: “We know that we should be swinging the bats better.”
• Girardi tried to use Wells as a late pinch hitter, but it didn’t lead to anything. There really aren’t many situational pinch hitting opportunities with this bench. “You know what you have and you have to deal with it,” Girardi said. “We’ve been dealing with it all year. You know what you have, and you go with it.”
• Speaking of second basemen, Robinson Cano went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and is now hitting .366 in his career at Camden Yards. He’s hitting .428 in this stadium since August 22, 2008. He’s a career .526 hitter against Chris Tillman.
• Stewart kind of took a beating tonight with a hit by a pitch and a backswing that hit him, but he said he’s fine. “Felt a little bruising sensation the for the next few innings, but then it went away a little while after,” Stewart said. “It’s fine now.”
• Jim Johnson got his 100th career save tonight. Mariano Rivera called it “adorable.” Actually, he didn’t say that at all, but I like to imagine that’s what he’d think.
• This was the Orioles first three-game series sweep of the season. It was the first time they’d swept the Yankees in Baltimore since April of 2005. Since July 29, 2012, the Orioles have the best winning percentage in baseball and the most wins.
• Final word goes to Wells: “You look back at what we were able to accomplish early in the season and there’s no reason why we can’t get back to that. We just need to get back to doing it. That’s obviously going to take our starting pitching continuing to do what they’re doing, our defense continuing to play well behind them and start getting timely hitting from up and down the lineup like we were early in the year. If we’re able to do that, then we’ll find ourselves in better position than 6 1/2 back.”
Associated Press photos