Remember that five-homer game on May 17? The Yankees have played 11 games since then and gone deep only four times. Today’s game was a pretty good snapshot of what the Yankees offense has become: seven runs on 13 hits, 12 of them singles.
They actually scored the exact same number of runs as they did in that five-homer game.
“That’s pretty good when there’s not a lot of big hits,” Joe Girardi said. “… We’ve got some guys that are banged up. We’re missing Tex and we’ve missed Beltran for, I don’t know, a week or a week and a half (more than that, actually). There’s some guys that we’re missing, but we had seven (runs) on Sunday, seven tonight against a pretty good pitching club. I don’t know how many we had on Monday. Six? We’re scoring some runs.”
The Yankees have actually scored at least six runs in three of their past four games — the exception was, of course, a shutout — and the offense did enough on this Middle America road trip to win five of nine. It was a long trip, and it rarely felt like a winning trip, but it was ultimately a successful trip.
“You always want to have a successful road trip,” Derek Jeter said. “We’ve played some long games and I think everyone here is proud of how we played. We grinded some games out, especially here in St. Louis. They have one of the best teams in baseball, so for us to win a couple games here is important.”
It was important to keep winning, and the Yankees are still doing that.
This team is still in second place in the American League East, still four games above .500, and still a total mystery (at least in my mind). The starting pitching is holding together with a patchwork rotation, the lineup has scored enough but done so with a sub-.300 slugging percentage in the past week and a half, and the bullpen remains a strength as long as the key late-inning relievers aren’t burned out by the All-Star break. There were plenty of times on this trip that the Yankees seemed worn out and easily beaten, but they managed to win more than they lost heading into a much-needed off day.
“I think some guys are tired and we could use the off day,” Girardi said. “And we’ll get back at it Friday.”
• Dellin Betances was used for just one pitch tonight, and that was by design. Girardi said he had decided he would use Betances for only one out tonight in an effort to keep from overusing him. He used Betances to get out of a jam in the sixth, and that was it. There’s no injury or anything, just trying a little self restraint.
• On a similar note, Girardi said he came into this game planning to use Dave Robertson for four outs if the situation called for it. It wasn’t really necessary tonight, but since Robertson didn’t pitch yesterday and won’t be needed tomorrow, Girardi decided to do it. Robertson allowed two runners in the ninth inning before striking out the side. Each of those three strikeouts was the potential tying run. “I just didn’t get (Yadier Molina) to swing at one of the pitches I needed him to (leading to a walk),” Robertson said. “It made the outing really hard. I had to really bear down to get the last three outs.”
• Hiroki Kuroda had a kind of bend-don’t-break start. He allowed nine hits but didn’t walk a batter for the fifth time this season. He said he came into the game planning to use his two-seamer inside against righties, and he was happy with his execution of that pitch. “I tried to keep the ball down and get enough ground balls,” Kuroda said. “There were ground balls that ended up being hits, but overall it was good.”
• John Ryan Murphy on Kuroda: “I think he was just picking a little bit too much on the edges once he got tired a little bit, but he does what he does. He had a really good plan out there. He was Hiro tonight.”
• Speaking of Murphy, he had a big two-run single that was really the biggest blow of the night. “I saw a lot of pitches my first at-bat,” Murphy said. “So I kind of had a good feel for what they were going to do. And I saw it well out of his hand. It was a good pitch to hit.”
• Three hits for Jacoby Ellsbury, who had his seventh three-hit game of the season and first since May 3. He also stole two bases in a game for the second time this season.
• Brian Roberts has a five-game hitting streak after going 2-for-4 tonight. It was his 11th multi-hit game of the season.
• Brendan Ryan also has a little hitting streak with hits in four straight games, including all three games in his return to St. Louis. This was his fourth start at shortstop since coming off the disabled list. It was also his second multi-hit game of the season.
• Brian McCann wasn’t tested often, but he made all of the basic plays tonight. “I felt a lot more comfortable than I thought I would,” he said. “I didn’t have many plays hit to me, or anything of that stuff. But I took some ground balls early, and I felt pretty good over there. … With each pitch, I was glad the balls weren’t hit to me. But I’ll get more reps in practice, and in case Tex needs a couple days, I can fill in there, and we’ll go that route.”
• The Yankees have played 17 interleague games this season. No other team has played more than 11.
• After the Cardinals showed a video of Cardinals players talking about Jeter, the fans at Busch Stadium gave a standing ovation and coaxed Jeter out for a curtain call. He said he couldn’t remember ever taking one in a game he didn’t play. “I didn’t know what was happening,” he said. “I was inside stretching and I saw some of the guys saying stuff. I don’t know what was said, so I went out there. I had no idea what was happening, but the fans have been great here in St. Louis. I’m glad I had an opportunity to come back.”
• Final word goes to Robertson: “I look at it as a good road trip. We went 5-4. That’s pretty good. It should have been 6-3 had I not blown the game against the White Sox, but it’s a good trip for us. A lot of tough wins, the team rallied and scored a lot of runs when we needed them to. We’re definitely looking forward to the off-day. We’ll take it. Guys could use it.”
Associated Press photos