The Yankees have never asked Martin Prado to be a true slugger. Most days he’s hit at or near the very bottom of the order, and his defensive versatility seems to be as highly valued as his potential for offensive impact. But Prado has been a pretty decent hitter at times in his career, and the past week has been one of those times.
After going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI this afternoon, Prado has 12 hits and is batting .444 in his past seven games with the Yankees. In his first 13 games with them, Prado has seven hits and batted .163.
“He’s been great,” Carlos Beltran said. “He’s very valuable. All those years (in the National League), I always loved the way he played. He’s a guy that can play every position and do it well. Offensively, he’s threat. Even though he’s a guy that a lot of people see him as a hit-and-run type of guy, a guy hitting the ball opposite field, but he takes his game seriously.”
In those past seven games, Prado has let the Yankees in hits (12), doubles (five), home runs (2) and RBI (9). And the Yankees have won five of those seven games.
“I’ve just been doing the same thing I’ve been doing my whole career,” Prado said. “It’s not different. I’m just playing hard. Sometimes the game doesn’t go the way you actually want it. If there’s somebody that works hard before the game, that’s me. I’m trying to prepare myself mentally just to be ready and play hard. That’s all you can control. The numbers, at the end of the season, it doesn’t matter. If you’ve got good numbers and your team doesn’t clinch or you don’t win the games, I’m not about that. I’m about today. It was a team win and it was a team effort. That’s all we’re looking for every day.”
Lately the the Yankees have moved Prado up in the order, and he’s rewarded that trust. This afternoon the Yankees stacked their lineup with eight left-handed hitters — three were switch hitters batting lefty — but it was Prado who had the biggest day and the biggest hit with his go-ahead double in the fourth.
“He’s a good player, that’s probably the easiest thing to say,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s a guy that grinds it out every day and loves to play the game, and he’s a good player. He has that ability to move around which gives us so much flexibility. It’s nice. … We’ve talked about this guy for a couple of years, but I knew how good of a player he was and it’s been a good acquisition.”
• In his return from another cortisone shot into his sore right elbow, Carlos Beltran went 2-for-4, reached base three times and hit his 15th home run of the season. “(The elbow) feels fine,” Beltran said. “Honestly speaking, I just don’t want to talk about it anymore. It’s the same issue that I have there. What’s important is being able to come to the ballpark every day and try to find a way to be in the ballpark. … I know that I’m limited, but at the end of the day, I just don’t want to think about it or talk about it anymore.”
• Girardi said it was pretty close to game time before he was absolutely certain Beltran would actually be able to play. “I checked with at 12:55, when we took the lineup cards out, to make sure that he was OK,” Girardi said. “It’s nice. That ends up being a big run, those two tack on runs when you’re ahead end up being big.”
• Beltran was hitless in his past 14 at-bats, so maybe the latest injection made a real difference. Eleven of Beltran’s 15 home runs have come at Yankee Stadium.
• One thing the Yankees did not do today: They didn’t strikeout. First time since May 12, 2011 against Kansas City that the Yankees went through a full game without their lineup recording a strikeout. They’d played 577 consecutive games with at least one strikeout.
• The Yankees last scored more than four runs on August 8, a span of two weeks. Is this a sign that the offense might be getting better? “I hope so,” Girardi said. “I’ve said all along this offense has the ability to score more runs and they’ve worked really hard at it. Today we put together some good at bats and some walks in there and took advantage of a miscue on their part and did a nice job.”
• Good start from Hiroki Kuroda, who said he wasn’t happy with most of his pitches, but he still found a way to go six innings with just two runs. “I think my velocity on my fastball was not really good,” Kuroda said. “And the movement wasn’t really there either. My slider wasn’t sharp either. So I had to rely a lot on my split today. … The fact that I was able to keep the game close to give my team a chance, I’m really proud of that. To get a win is the biggest thing for me today.”
• This was Kuroda’s 16th quality start of the season, tying Masahiro Tanaka for the most on the team.
• Kuroda’s won two in a row, and he’s generally been pretty steady since the start of May. A few bumps here and there, but generally reliable. That said, the past two years he’s had some trouble with the final month of the season. And the final month of the season is fast approaching. “I don’t know if I feel strong or not, but what I’m concentrating on is that I take it start-by-start, game-by-game,” Kuroda said. “I have to admit, the way the season ended last year, I didn’t really like it, so it’s on my mind.”
• If last year’s fade is on his mind, is Kuroda actively doing anything to help avoid a similar fate this year? “Throughout the season I have decreased the number of pitches on my side days,” he said. “It’s more about the mental game, I think.”
• Dellin Betances faced just one batter strictly because he’d thrown 1.2 innings last night. He’s fine.
• In place of Betances, Adam Warren pitched a hitless eighth. The numbers were obviously much better than they’ve been in his recent outings, and Warren said he felt mechanically better as well. He said he was encouraged by today’s outing, not only because of the results, but mostly because of the way he felt.
• Dave Robertson has converted 34 of 36 save opportunities this year, including his past 22 in a row. That’s the longest active streak in the Majors, and the second-longest of the season (Huston Street converted 23 straight to start the season).
• What happened with the Yankees base running in the fourth inning when Mark Teixeira ran to third despite Brian McCann stopping at third, and Prado was caught too far off second base? “Good question,” Girardi said. “Tex followed the throw, which you’re taught to read the throw, but you have to pick up what they guy’s doing in front of you. So we kind of ran into an out there. With Prado, it’s just a quick read, and your reads aren’t always going to be right. He thought the ball was getting by and he was trying to score.”
• Final word goes to Prado: “We have a mentality that everybody has to do little things, try to get them over and having good at-bats. We battled the whole game. Kuroda threw the ball real well and kept us in the game. When things like that happen, we have a pretty good chance to win the game.”
Associated Press photos