This part is important to remember: The Yankees are still mathematically alive.
“Darn right we are,” Joe Girardi said.
Personally, I might not believe there’s any compelling reason to believe the Yankees will make a run into the playoffs, but that’s my outside perspective. Inside the Yankees clubhouse, the team really has no choice but to keep trying to win until all hope is officially exhausted. The chances are remarkably slim — something like a third of a percentage point — but with six games to play, they haven’t been eliminated yet.
“The feeling is you have to go out and win,” Girardi said. “Then you hope you get some help from some other teams. But I don’t think the thought has changed what we have to do. If we don’t win, then we have no shot. So the feeling is you have to go out and win.”
Girardi said he’ll continue to manage the bullpen as if these are must-win games.
“I think you have to,” he said.
Any concern that the Yankees players feel differently? Any worry that the Yankees have decided to fold because the odds are long and the result is largely out of their hands?
“No, I don’t, I’m not worried,” Girardi said. “I think our guys know that we have to basically win out. I think they understand that. As long as you’re still alive, you still have hope. Guys understand that and I think they’ll be prepared to play.”
• CC Sabathia pitched through his strained hamstring through most of Friday’s start, and he wanted to pitch through it again tomorrow. “I don’t know exactly when I did it,” he said. “But I know it was around the second inning. You feel stuff when you’re out there all the time. I almost had an inkling to come in and not even tell Stevie, but I came in and wanted a little bit of ice just because it was feeling a little sore, and he saw the bruising and that’s what kind of prompted this.”
• In the past two or three weeks, Sabathia said, he and Larry Rothschild began working on some new things in the bullpen, and Sabathia began watching more opponents’ video to change his preparation. He’s clearly adjusting to being a different style of pitcher, and he felt like Friday’s strong start against the Giants was a good indication that the adjustments are working (and will work next year). “There were a couple of things in my delivery we were working on,” he said. “In the past week or two or three weeks we started in the bullpen and looking at video and started getting on the right track. It’s very encouraging going forward knowing what I need to do to be right.”
• Girardi said the Yankees do not think Sabathia could have made the injury worse by pitching through it on Friday. “No, there’s no thought (of that),” Girardi said. “Once you pull it, it’s pulled.”
• Also no concern about Robinson Cano’s ankle, which he turned during Sunday’s game. “Not that I’ve heard of anything yet today,” Girardi said. “The trainer hasn’t come sprinted in, so…”
• The Yankees will have Phil Hughes start in Sabathia’s place tomorrow. Ivan Nova will start on Thursday, and Andy Pettitte on Friday in Houston. “Then we’ll figure it out,” Girardi said. Still no work on who will start Saturday’s game, but Hiroki Kuroda would be on turn for Sunday’s season finale.
• That series opener in Houston will be the final outing of Pettitte’s career.
• And just to bring it back to Sabathia quickly, both Sabathia and Girardi said Friday’s strong start gave reason for optimism that Sabathia’s going to have a better year next year. “I still look at him as an ace, I do,” Girardi said. “I know he had his ups and downs this year, but I was impressed by what he did on Friday. It leads me to believe that next year is going to be different. … My thought is, CC will be (the No. 1 starter) and then we’ll go from there.”
Associated Press photos