The Yankees are simply not equipped to play a game like this one. Their offense isn’t explosive enough to make up for multiple mistakes, and that’s certainly true against a pitcher like Felix Hernandez. Leadoff hitters getting on base against David Phelps, a mental mistake by Derek Jeter, a physical error by Kelly Johnson, and a completely deflating ninth-inning performance by Alfredo Aceves. This lineup can’t make up for all of that. Not the way it’s been hitting for the past several weeks, anyway.
“Weird stuff,” Kelly Johnson said. “We ultimately didn’t score enough anyway. We’d like to get the bats going. Felix obviously speaks for himself, but we’d like to get the bats going a little better anyway and give ourselves more room for error.”
The groundball past Johnson was called a two-run single, but it was clearly a mistake. The leadoff triple in the fourth might have been a single — and Kyle Seager might have hit for the cycle — if Jeter hadn’t assumed the ball went foul. The two-run fourth inning might have been a little bigger had Ichiro Suzuki not rounded too far around third base for the final out.
“Maybe we could have done a little bit better,” Joe Girardi said. “But I don’t think it was from lack of effort.”
I don’t think the question is about the Yankees on-the-field effort. Seems to have a lot more to do with whether the Yankees pitching depth can hold up, whether the infielders can actually field their positions, and whether the lineup can score enough runs with a bunch of singles and the occasional double.
“I thought we actually did a pretty good job on Felix,” Girardi said. “But like I said, we’re not a club right now that’s hitting the ball out of the ballpark, so you have to put a lot of base hits together. And we’re not hitting a lot of doubles either, so you have to put a lot of base hits together. At times we’ve been able to do it, and at times we haven’t. We’ve run into some pretty decent pitching here over the last two weeks, but we’re not hitting the ball out of the ballpark, and it’s harder to score runs.”
That much has been pretty clear.
• About the Jeter play in the fourth inning. If you didn’t see it, Brett Gardner nearly made a sliding catch on a ball along the line, and when it popped out of his glove, Jeter almost caught it. When he didn’t, Jeter scooped the ball and kept jogging deeper into foul territory, not realizing the ball had been ruled fair. Seager wound up with a triple on the play. Because it’s Jeter and I’m sure there will be a lot of focus on that play, here are three perspectives on it:
Jeter: It was kind of an odd play for me because I was playing in at third for a bunt and ended up going back for a pop up. The pop up started going foul so I was running in foul territory, then (the ball) came back, so it never even crossed my mind that it was fair. I almost gave it to a fan. I’m glad I didn’t. I thought it was foul at the time because I was in foul territory.
Gardner: “I should have caught the ball. The ball was in my glove. I thought I was going to catch it off to the side of my body, and I slid up underneath where it was going to land, and the ball went in my glove. And instead of the ball going in the pocket and my glove closing around the ball, the ball hit my leg underneath my glove and bounced out. It was just a weird play altogether. (Jeter) was playing in and near third base, not where he normally plays, and it was just a weird play.”
Phelps: “Gardy made a great effort for it and Jeet almost caught it. He was running down the line and I was trying to scream whatever I could at him to get his attention. I was just hoping he didn’t toss the ball into the stands. … It looked like it was foul. I don’t fault him one bit. My emotions probably got the best of me (Phelps was clearly yelling at Jeter to throw the ball) because I saw Seager rounding the bases and I was just hoping he didn’t get to the plate. It’s frustrating at the time, but it’s just one of those freak things that happen in the game sometimes.”
• By the way, Jeter said he finally threw the ball because he heard Gardner yelling at him. “I wish everybody would have yelled,” Jeter said. “I wish fans would have yelled, but they wanted a ball.”
• The Mariners had already scored two runs in the seventh before Johnson let a two-run single get past him. It was ruled a hit, though it seemed — to me anyway — to be an error. “Just didn’t make it,” Johnson said. “Ground ball to the left, playing in a little bit, and I didn’t keep the glove down.”
• On the Ichiro baserunning mistake, the Mariners had shifted against Johnson, and the ball really did look like it was definitely getting through for a single into left-center, which might have been enough for Ichiro to score. He came hard around third base, but Brad Miller had gotten over in time to stop the ball, and he threw to third to get Ichiro out and end the inning. Yankees would have had the bases loaded with two outs for the top of the order. “That’s a tough play for Ich because the ball, it looks like it’s by the shortstop,” Girardi said. “That’s a tough read because it’s behind him.”
• Ultimately David Phelps finished with six earned runs through six innings, which is a pretty awful line. But he also held a 2-2 tie heading into the seventh, and even then, it was those two triples that had cost him. For the most part, he pitched well until that seventh inning he gave up a leadoff double, a walk and a bunt fielder’s choice to load the bases with no outs. “It started off with a hanging curveball that Zunino hit for a double,” Phelps said. “Then I tried to be a little too fine with Ackley. It’s a lot different even if I let him put a ball in play right there, we get an out, we have a runner on third, one out. It’s a lot easier to manage than first and second. Even the pitch to Miller (who singled in two runs), it was curveball that’s got to be in the dirt because he’s swinging right there. He put a good swing on it. It’s frustrating.”
• Speaking of that seventh inning, the bunt was to the third-base side of the mound and Phelps tried to get the lead runner. He nearly did, but the runner was ruled safe (a call upheld on replay). Phelps said he told Yangervis Solarte before the play that he would field a bunt to the left side. “We had the catcher running (to third) right there,” Phelps said. “That’s the play, especially in that part of the game with Felix pitching. We have to get that out.”
• Why stick with Phelps in that inning? “I liked his chances of getting a ground ball and getting a double-play ball there,” Girardi said. “I thought he was still throwing the ball pretty decent, just felt that he would get him out was really what I was thinking. I can go to Thornton there and they can pinch hit with a right-hander. I felt comfortable with Phelps getting that out.”
• Solarte is hitting .467 with two doubles and a home run during this home stand. … This was Ichiro’s first multi-RBI game since August 30, 2013. … Johnson has had three multi-hit games in his last four games. He’s batting .429 over that stretch. He had just three multi-hit games in his first 42 games this season.
• How about this: This was the Yankees seventh game allowing at least 10 runs this season, matching their total for all of 2013.
• Flurry of injuries down in Triple-A. SS Dean Anna, OF Ramon Flores and RHP Diego Moreno were all placed on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre disabled list today. LHP Francisco Rondon and SS Carmen Angelini were brought up from Trenton; C Jose Gil was activated from the Staten Island roster.
• Final word goes to Gardner: “I’m not going to sit here and say that we’re concerned. It’s the first of June. We’ve had spurts where we’ve played good baseball, and then recently we haven’t scored as many runs as we would have liked. We faced a tough pitcher tonight. Phelps pitched real well for six innings, matched him pretty much – I think it was 2-2 going into the seventh. Then got into some trouble. But we just weren’t able to get a lot going against felix — he was really good — try to turn the page, we’ve got a tough team coming in tomorrow in Oakland, they’ve been playing good ball, and we’ll try to get ready for tomorrow.”
Associated Press photos