Jacoby Ellsbury was pulled from tonight’s game because of tightness in his right hip, but he said he still expects to be in the lineup tomorrow night in Oakland.
“It tightened up, I think, right after I hit the wall (making a catch in the fifth),” Ellsbury said. “And continued through that at-bat (in the sixth). I’m not concerned with it. … I got some ice on it, did everything we could, and I plan on being in there tomorrow.”
Joe Girardi had the same sort of minimal concern.
“It just tightened up a little bit,” Girardi said. “I thought he may have done it when he ran into the wall, but it was when he got out of the way of a pitch that up and in — what was it — the sixth inning or the seventh inning? So we just took him out. We think he’s a player for us tomorrow, but we’ll see.”
Ellsbury had some trouble with his hip in Kansas City and was supposed to sit out Monday’s game before it rained out — he hurt himself rounding first base — but he’s been playing extremely well lately. Tonight he hit a two-run homer in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 16 games dating back to May 26. He’s hitting .381 with 12 RBI during the streak.
It’s the longest active hitting streak in baseball and the longest by a Yankees player since Derek Jeter hit in 19 straight back in 2012.
• No surprised after what Girardi said pregame, but it now seems all but certain that Francisco Cervelli will not join the Yankees until next week. Girardi said he doesn’t expect to have Cervelli tomorrow, and it likely won’t be until Tuesday at the earliest.
• Another really good start by Chase Whitley, who’s now won two in a row and pitched at least seven innings each time. This time he went 7.2, and Dellin Betances was laughing with Whitley in the clubhouse about going that deep in the game. He hasn’t walked a batter in his past four starts. Today he had no walks and six strikeouts. He got that deep in the game on just 82 pitches. “As a competitor you never want to be taken out,” Whitley said. “But at the same time, he made the right call. I’m not complaining.”
• Girardi said he went to Matt Thornton for the final out in the eighth for two reasons: 1. Robinson Cano had hit the ball hard against Whitley, and 2. Thornton hadn’t pitched in a while and the Yankees wanted to get him in a game.
• Whitley finally allowed a home run when Logan Morrison hit a solo shot in the second inning. Whitley started his big league career with 27.2 innings without a home run. He also did not allow a home run in 26.1 innings in Triple-A this season.
• Whitley’s biggest out seemed to be the strikeout of Kyle Seager to leave runners at the corners in the third inning. The Yankees had scored two runs in the top of that inning, and Whitley said he felt it was vital to keep the momentum from shifting. “Huge because that was a shutdown inning,” Whitley said. “My goal is always to make sure that we shut down innings. To be able to do that, especially in that situation, first and third, to get through that, that was big.”
• Derek Jeter had three hits and a walk. He had seven hits with two stolen bases, two walks and no strikeouts this series. “I told you guys, I feel good,” Jeter said. “All you can do is keep battling. This game at times is really, really difficult. Most times, all the time, it’s difficult. You go through stretches where you have to make adjustments. I don’t care if it’s your first year or your 20th year. You have to make adjustments. Sometimes adjustments take a little while, but you have to keep at it, and hopefully the results will come.”
• Alfonso Soriano had just one hit, but it was a big two-run double. He hasn’t played much lately, but he’s one of the few right-handed power bats on the roster. “He’s had some RBI base hits for us,” Girardi said. “And we need him to do that. As I’ve said all along, his struggles have been mostly against right handers. He’s been pretty good against left handers, and he did it again tonight.”
• Three awfully good catches tonight. Ellsbury made a key catch in center, Gardner robbed at least a double in the seventh, and Ichiro Suzuki made a nice catch in right after entering as a defensive replacement. When those three are in there together, the Yankees have an outfield that can cover a lot of ground and make some huge plays.
• Gardner really played it casual after making his catch. Whitley said he thought Gardner had caught it, then he saw Gardner’s reaction and assumed the ball was gone. Eventually, Gardner showed the ball. Everyone in the ballpark seemed to think the ball had gone out. “Yeah?” Gardner said. “I wasn’t trying to (trick them). I didn’t think that — you assume everyone sees it go in the glove. I guess being right at the top of the wall, everyone thought by my reaction that it was out, maybe. … I made them wait for it for a couple of seconds. Keep Whitley on his toes.”
• This was the Yankees third series sweep of the season, which remarkably matches their series sweep total from last season. Their previous series sweeps this season, though, were two-game sets. This was their first three-game series sweep.
• Another road series full of standing ovations for Jeter. He gets much more positive attention on the road than at home these days. After he nearly beat out an infield single in the ninth, Jeter waved briefly to the crowd as he walked off the field. They were going nuts for his final at-bat. “I was upset I didn’t beat it out at first,” Jeter said. “So most of the way back I was upset at myself. I’m aware of (the ovation). I’m aware of it because they’ve given me a nice ovation at all times. … It’s awkward when you’re in the middle of a game and the game’s not over, but the fans have been great all three games here.”
• Final word goes to Gardner: “Wins haven’t been easy to come by. Three in a row (is tough), and the Mariners have been playing pretty well. We faced some good pitching. We needed this. We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves and guys have been throwing the ball well. Our pitching has been great all year. It’s going to be a tough weekend in Oakland; those guys have got a real good team and we’re going to go in there and try to win the first game tomorrow night.”
Associated Press photos