I went looking for a good picture of the Yankees offense looking bad, and unfortunately a shot of Brian Roberts is the best I found. He’s one of the few guys who actually hit really well today.
“We’re going to be fine, man,” Carlos Beltran said. “We haven’t been able to put anything together, but offensively I think we have what it takes to play better and win ballgames. So we don’t worry about it.”
Two games into the season, though, the Yankees are being thoroughly outhit by the Astros. The Astros! Two games hardly mean a thing in the course of a baseball season, but two games against a team that lost 111 games last season? It’s deflating, especially coming out of a spring that actually felt fairly encouraging for this team.
Maybe it means nothing in grand scheme of things — how often do you really remember the first two games of any season? — but for now, it’s just an ugly way to get started. Tonight the Yankees were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and things got particularly ugly in the eighth when Beltran led off with a double only to watch Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano strike out swinging. Any one of those three would likely be the Astros cleanup hitter, but they left Beltran stranded. Maybe not a particularly meaningful sequence when it’s all said and done, but to define these past two games, that inning paints a pretty accurate picture.
“I’m being too aggressive,” Soriano said. “So I’ve got to calm down a little bit more and see better pitches. … It’s only two games. It’s nothing, 160 games left, so we’ve got to keep working hard to get better.”
· During a pregame ceremony, the Astros presented Derek Jeter with a pair of cowboy boots, a Stetson cowboy hat and a set of golf clubs. Former Yankees pitchers Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Mike Stanton – all Texas natives – were on the field for the ceremony along with several golfers from a local PGA event and Hall of Fame announcer Milo Hamilton. “The guys were trying to get me to wear the boots and the hat,” Jeter said. “I’ll wear the boots and the hat when I golf. I can combine all of them. I thought it was nice. I don’t have too many pairs of boots.”
· Jeter was also given golf lessons by noted golf coach Butch Harmon. “I need lessons from a lot of people when it comes to golf,” Jeter said. “If they have lessons and want to give them, I’m more than happy to accept them.”
· Last night, with the Yankees down 6-0 in the seventh, Joe Girardi elected to leave Kelly Johnson in to hit against the only Astros left-handed reliever. Johnson didn’t hit the ball past the mound. Tonight, with the Yankees down by two in the seventh, Yangervis Solarte pinch hit with runners at the corners and no outs. “It’s a two-run game at that point, (and) I just thought that he had a chance to tie it up,” Girardi explained. “We needed a lot of runs (Tuesday night).” Basically, last night Girardi was playing for the home run with Johnson. Tonight he played for the base hit with Solarte.
· Actually, Solarte didn’t have a bad at-bat. The result was brutal, but the swing wasn’t. “Solarte hits the ball really hard and it ends up being a double play,” Girardi said.
· Good start for Hiroki Kuroda, who threw a lot of pitches in the first two innings but settled down to go six innings with two runs on three hits. He struck out five and walked one. “Early innings, after I would get ahead in the count, I tried to do too much with my pitches,” Kuroda said. “I threw a lot of pitches. After that, I was able to make an adjustment and get outs. … I think I was trying to do too much, trying to pitch to both corners of the plate. I tried to do too much and that led me to bad counts.”
· Kuroda has gone at least five innings in his last 23 starts, tied for the eighth-longest active streak in the American League. He has lasted at least five innings in 103 of his 108 career big league starts.
· Roberts had his first Yankees hit, then he got two more of them. He went 3-for-4 today, his first three-hit game since September of last year when he had three hits against the Yankees while playing for Baltimore.
· Astros right-hander Jarred Cosart made his first career start against the Yankees. The kid’s 23, pitched well last season — even with more walks than strikeouts — and looked awfully good tonight. “His location was tremendous with his two pitches, his fastball and his curveball,” Girardi said. “When you have that type of velocity and that type of curveball and you’re locating it, you can be pretty tough.”
· So far Soriano is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts this season. “He’s just not quite on track,” Girardi said. “We talk about when it’s early in the season, sometimes it’s glaring. It happens, you’ve got 200 at-bats under your belt, you don’t say much about it. He’s a very good hitter and he’ll be productive.”
· Final word goes to Jeter, who was asked if he’d rather have a win or a ceremony. “It’d be nice to have both,” Jeter said. “I told you yesterday, a lot of times getting the first of anything is tough. They played well. They pitched well today. We couldn’t find a way to score a couple more runs.”
Associated Press photos