Andy Pettitte has been better his past two starts, but it hasn’t mattered. Seven innings, two runs, and a no decision in another loss that dropped the Yankees farther from first place.
“There’s no doubt it’s getting late; we need to win,” Pettitte said. “All you can do now is look to tomorrow. We lost again tonight and all you can do is be positive and try to build on things. We got Derek back in the lineup, we got Sori back in the lineup. Obviously I feel a little better about the way that I’m throwing the ball. Our bullpen has been awesome all year, and it’s going to be awesome. We just have to stay positive and keep trying to get something rolling. Hopefully it starts tomorrow. Hiro’s obviously going to give us a good start, we feel like. Hopefully tomorrow is the day. We haven’t clicked it all together in a long time, but hopefully we can get on a good run here shortly because it’s definitely getting late.”
Right now, it’s games like this that define these Yankees. They can pitch well enough, but if a reliever who’s been awfully good for the past three months allows a soft single to left field in the ninth inning, that might be too much damage to withstand.
“I understand that we’re going to have to win games like this,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s not a surprise for me. I understand what we have. I think guys are trying to give good at bats, so I don’t get frustrated with it. I know we’re going to have to win close games.”
That’s been the company line for a while now, and Girardi has stuck with “have to win close games” as his way of acknowledging the offensive struggles. But the Yankees have now lost nine of their past 13, and they’re still a fourth-place team heading into the last day of July.
“Hopefully we can just will this thing, will it into the playoffs,” Pettitte said. “I know I expect to go, and I’m sure and I hope everyone else in this room feels the same way. I think the power of belief is awfully big and awfully important. And I believe in this club. I believe we got the guys in this room to do it, and we’re going to continue to try to push each other and get it done. … I wouldn’t have come back if I wasn’t ready to go through the grind and try to help push this team and push guys, and like I said, hopefully we can get it done.”
• Derek Jeter said he feels good, and it’s clear that the Yankees desire to have him run lightly out of the box is driving him crazy. I’m not sure he would have beat out any of his ground balls tonight, and he might have had a chance on the ball that Hanley Ramirez had to dive for, but the Yankees have told Jeter to be smart about it. “It’s not a good one for me,” Jeter said. “I’m not very smart. It’s tough. You try to make a conscious effort to not do anything stupid, but it’s difficult to do, which I guess in a way is a good thing.”
• Jeter said he doesn’t expect to hold back for long. He also doesn’t expect the Yankees to tell him when he has the green light to run hard. “I’ll just do it,” he said. “I won’t tell them, I’ll probably just do it. … I try to look at the big picture. I’m trying to do what I’m told. I don’t want to do anything stupid, but it’s very difficult when your natural reaction is to run as hard as you can, and you can’t. It’s difficult, but that won’t last long.”
• Girardi on Jeter jogging out of the box: “We’ve talked to him about it. You’ve got to have a governor. That’s the bottom line. You’ve got to be smart about it. It’s not what we’re used to seeing, but we’ve got to protect his legs.”
• Girardi said he still expects to have Jeter back at shortstop tomorrow.
• After the Ichiro Suzuki double in the seventh, Girardi said he had no thoughts of pinch hitting for Jayson Nix. “This is a guy who’s been playing pretty decent for us all year long, so no, I did not,” Girardi said.
• Lyle Overbay provided the bulk of the Yankees offense tonight. Alfonso Soriano doubled and scored, but it was Overbay who had both RBI, one of them on a home run. He has four RBI in three games against the Dodgers this season.
• Pettitte allowed both of his runs in the first two innings. That’s been a theme in his recent starts. “I felt pretty good after the first inning,” Pettitte said. “The first inning, my ball was cutting again, the two-seamers I was trying to throw. It would be nice to get through a first inning without giving up a run. … Mechanically, I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m just fighting myself to find it early. I’m going to get there. I’m going to fix it.”
• Shawn Kelley said, once he got to 3-1 against Mark Ellis, he’d decided to stick with his best pitch the rest of the way. He went with three straight sliders, and Ellis got just enough of the third one for the game-winner. “That pitch, that’s what I wanted to throw,” Kelley said. “I wanted a slider, and I wanted it down in the zone, Attack him with my best pitch, and I did, and it got him out in front a bit, but he got enough of it to get it in the outfield and that’s what he needed to do.”
• Had Robinson Cano not dropped the ball trying to make the quick tag, it looked like Chris Stewart’s throw — though it wasn’t very good — might have gotten Andre Ethier out at second on the stole base attempt earlier in the ninth. “It’s hard to say,” Girardi said. “I watched the ball and I didn’t watch anything else. I thought the ball beat him there, but I’m watching the ball.”
• The Red Sox managed to improve their rotation tonight, giving up Jose Iglesias to acquire White Sox starter Jake Peavy. Iglesias will end up in Detroit as part of a three-team deal.
• The Yankees were reportedly looking into Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo, but he was traded to Oakland.
• Final word goes to Girardi: “We’ve talked about it all year long, that we’re going to have to win close games. It’s how we’re going to have to win games. We’re not a team that’s going to score a ton of runs. For us, first couple months we were winning all these games, and now we’ve lost some, and they’re difficult losses, but the effort is still there.”
Associated Press photos