In the first game, Joe Girardi played basically all of his lineup regulars, used a starting pitcher with well over 1,000 big league innings, and sent his closer to the mound for a four-out save.
In the second game, Girardi had four former All-Stars on the bench, used a starting pitcher with eight career starts on his resume, and went to his long man and a Triple-A call-up to keep a tight game under control.
Certainly seemed that he was ready to prioritize Game 1 and take his chances in Game 2.
“I think when you have a chance to win a game, you’ve got to do everything you can to win that game,” Girardi said. “Whether it’s the first one or the second one. And we used our whole bench the second game (too).”
True, in the final two innings of the second game, Girardi emptied his bench in an attempt to regain the lead, but Derek Jeter was the only member of that All-Star bench who got a hit. Yangervis Solarte was robbed of at least a double — maybe an RBI double — when Josh Harrison made a diving catch in the eighth inning, and dismissed former Yankees reliever Mark Melancon closed out his sixth save with a 1-2-3 ninth. If the Yankees had won, they’d have a five-game winning streak. Instead, they settled for a doubleheader split and a win of the three-game series.
Could be worse. Could be better.
“It’s been a long day,” Dave Robertson said. “Those games were a tough grind on both teams. We had a chance to take the second one, but it just wasn’t in the cards tonight. We had a chance to win it, but that’s just the way baseball goes.”
The second game was sloppy early, and the Yankees let it slip away late. Girardi seemed to dismiss the idea, but it seemed that he did all he could to win the first game and was willing to accept whatever happened in the second.
“Of course you get greedy when you win the first two games of a series and you have a chance to win the third game and it’s a tight game,” he said. “But we’ll move on.”
• CC Sabathia was at the ballpark today. He got treatment from the medical staff and will meet with Dr. Chris Ahmad tomorrow — I assume it’s Ahmad; Girardi just said “the doctor” — to set a rehab plan going forward. “Is it a 15-day DL?” Girardi said. “It’s going to be more than that, I can tell you that. When we’ll get him back, I don’t think any of us really know, because this is not something that’s done very often. You look at Michael (Pineda)’s injury, there’s a lot of data behind that one to give you an idea it’s going to be about six weeks. CC’s, there’s not.”
• Speaking of injuries, Ichiro Suzuki was back in the lineup for the first time since that back injury he suffered in Milwaukee. He seemed fine tonight, but the test will be how he feels tomorrow. “We’ll go day-by-day with him,” Girardi said. “But hopefully when he wakes up tomorrow he feels good. Whenever you have a back issue and you get out there – and I don’t believe he had a chronic back issue, but that’s what he was dealing with – you wonder how they’re going to feel the next day. So we’ll find out and see how he feels Tuesday.”
• As for Jacoby Ellsbury, who was scratched from yesterday’s lineup because of flu-like symptoms, Girardi said that’s why he chose not to put Ellsbury in the lineup for both games this afternoon. “Normally it’s a day that Jacoby probably would have played a doubleheader,” Girardi said. “But what he went through yesterday, we didn’t think it was a real good idea, being dehydrated yesterday and having a stomach virus or whatever it was where he wasn’t able to keep anything down. And you’re not going to play (Brian McCann) two games, so we were somewhat a little bit limited there just because of what some of the guys were going through.”
• Why send Brendan Ryan to first base in the ninth inning? “I wanted to use the other guys as pinch hitters,” Girardi said. “And he’s played a little bit over there (taking ground balls), and I feel that he’s capable of doing it. It’s not something that I will do very often, though.” If you missed it, Derek Jeter pinch hit and singled for Kelly Johnson in the eighth inning, then he played shortstop and Ryan moved to first base (where Johnson had been playing) for the ninth inning. I thought Girardi might have just lost his DH to put Mark Teixeira there, essentially taking Jeter out of the game after one at-bat, but he did not.
• Yangervis Solarte was hitless in his past 13 at-bats before a second-inning single. He then homered in the sixth. Solarte has now hit three home runs in his past six games and four home runs in his past 10. Before these past 10 games, Solarte had just one home run all year.
• Vidal Nuno threw 81 pitches, which was one away from a season high. It looked like he might get through at least six innings without allowing an earned run, but he gave up a two-out, two-run, go-ahead home run to Starling Marte in the sixth inning. Nuno said it was a cutter away, but he left it middle up. “He gave up the bloop hit with (one out), and then he gave up the hard hit to center,” Girardi said. “I mean, you’re going to give up some hard-hit balls during the course of the game and I just felt he had done a really good job up to that point. I was going to give him a chance to get through six knowing our bullpen was somewhat depleted, just because of what we did. He gives up the two-run homer. It’s unfortunate but I thought he pitched a really good game.”
• Hiroki Kuroda did his part in the first game. It wasn’t always pretty, but he got through six innings with three runs and picked up his third win. He’s now 3-3 with a 4.61 ERA. Kuroda was down on himself for the walk that got him into trouble in the fourth inning, but he ultimately got out of that jam. “Kuroda did his job,” Girardi said.
• Dave Robertson got a four-out save in the first game, and Robertson said he was told he might be used in the second game, so he prepared as if he were fully available.
• If you didn’t see it live, go find video of Josh Harrison’s catch to rob Solarte of a double in the second game. Really impressive. “Harrison was a big reason they won that second game today,” Girardi said. “His defense and his offense really hurt us today. Solo put a great at-bat on him as well, he hit a rocket and they’re probably playing no doubles there and he lays out. You don’t see guys laying out 320 feet away very often, but he did it.”
• Mark Teixeira built an eight-game hitting streak in the first game, then he went hitless in the second game. … John Ryan Murphy has now hit safely in seven straight games in which he’s had an at-bat. … Brett Gardner had three hits today. This season he’s batting .350 at Yankee Stadium and .235 on the road.
• Final word goes to Girardi: “You have to always look at the big picture. You win two out of three (before) leaving. You win four out of your last five games. Of course you get greedy when you win the first two games of a series and you have a chance to win the third game and it’s a tight game, but we’ll move on.”
Associated Press photos