The final regular-season homestand of Derek Jeter’s career began well for the Yankees thanks in part to The Captain, in part to Shane Greene and in part to Adam Lind doing his Bill Buckner impression at first.
Jeter went 2 for 4 in the 3-2 win over the Blue Jays after arriving at 1 for 30. He hit a solo homer to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the sixth, his first home homer since July of last year, snapping a 298 at-bat streak without one here and a 158 at-bat streak without one overall this season, dating to Aug. 1. So he’s up to .250 with four homers and 41 RBI.
“Obviously this year, up until this point, hasn’t turned out how I would like it to,” Jeter said. “But you’ve got to keep fighting. You’ve got to keep battling.”
The Yankees are five games back of Oakland for the second wild card with 10 to play. A rather longshot at this point. So Jeter keeps getting reminded that it’s his last homestand everywhere he turns.
“I’m trying not to think about it being the last homestand,” Jeter said. “We still have a week left. We’re trying to win games. I’m going to go out there and play hard like I’ve always done my entire career until we’re out of games.”
Greene should be back to pitch more games next season. The 25-year-old rookie has allowed three runs or less in 12 of his 14 starts, including no runs and three hits in 6 2/3 in this latest outing. Greene has a 1.06 ERA to show for his last three starts.
“This young man has four pitches he can go to and he has confidence in them, and he has the ability to throw strikes,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s been impressive to me.”
The Yankees won when Chase Headley’s grounder got by Lind for a walk-off error.
“It was a tough play for Adam,” Jeter said, playing defense for him.
Stephen Drew had an RBI double, snapping a career-worst-tying 16 straight games without driving in a run. He went 2 for 3 to lift his average to .163. Somehow I don’t think he’ll be the heir to Jeter’s throne.
Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story on Jeter and this first game of the homestand. And here’s my feature story on Headley after speaking to him before the game about possibly returning and about the aftermath of getting hit in the chin last week.
The photo of Jeter’s home-run swing is from The Associated Press.
Since six games back with 11 to go seems like a rather long shot for the Yankees, this homestand figures to be the last time we will ever see Derek Jeter play at Yankee Stadium outside of on Old-Timers’ Day.
“I just want to try to enjoy it,” Jeter said.
It’s a chance for the fans to say goodbye, with the home finale set for next Thursday night. Joe Girardi doesn’t expect an easy homestand for Jeter despite the love.
“I think it’s going to mean a lot, but I also think it’s going to be difficult, just because of what baseball has meant to his life and what the Yankees have meant to him and what he’s meant to this city,” Girardi said.
“I think it will be difficult for him emotionally. He’s probably not going to show a lot, but it’s hard to take this uniform off.”
It may be even harder on him come February.
“I think he’ll miss it in spring training,” Girardi said. “It becomes a reality that you’re not playing anymore, in a sense. I can’t speak for him and how he’s going to feel, but that was when it really hit me because I was used to doing something around February 15 and all of a sudden I didn’t have anything to do.”
Girardi said Carlos Beltran will be available despite the sad news that came Wednesday that he and wife Jessica had lost their unborn son, reportedly due to a miscarriage.
“My heart goes out to him, and obviously to his family,” Girardi said. “When guys go through this, I think sometimes people think we’re immune to problems because we’re professional athletes. We deal with things on an everyday basis and we go through issues, too. That’s the most difficult part. I just want to get a temperature of where he’s at when he comes in today and then we’ll go from there.”
Masahiro Tanaka threw 32 pitches in the bullpen in preparation for his return Sunday. We’re were told he had no pain.
“So far, so good,” Girardi said.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Derek Jeter admitted that he was on guard over getting emotional during his pregame speech, although he did say his hand was shaking a bit. He wanted to say his thank yous. Most of all, he wanted to thank you.
“In my opinion, I’ve had the greatest job in the world,” Jeter told the crowd. “I got a chance to be the shortstop for the New York Yankees, and there’s only one of those. And I always felt as though that my job was to try to provide joy and entertainment for you guys, but it can’t compare to what you brought me. So, for that, thank you very much.
“I’ve loved what I’ve done. I love what I do. More importantly, I’ve loved doing it for you. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.”
In his postgame press conference, Jeter said: “The fans are the ones that made this fun. It’s been an extremely fun 20 seasons. When you’re out there playing, you’re out there trying to do your best. You’re playing as hard as you can, and you’re doing it for the fans, because the fans, Yankees fans in particular, they pay attention. It means something to them. They push you. They push me. They’re hard. They’re tough. But I think they’ve helped shape who I am.
“So I wanted to have the opportunity to thank them. I don’t know if I can truly thank them enough.”
Chase Headley did a nice thing, coming up with the idea to let Jeter run out alone before the anthem.
“I was unaware of the fact that no one was behind me,” Jeter said.
“He deserved the moment to be out there by himself on his day,” Headley said.
Derek Jeter Day will stay with Derek Jeter.
“The Yankees know how to throw big ceremonies,” Jeter said. “To be a part of it, having all those people come out there and honor you and show their support and the fans, they way they’ve treated me, this is a day I’ll remember forever.”
Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story with much more detail on Jeter’s big day.
The game was forgettable for the Yankees, four hits in a 2-0 loss to Kansas City, their second shutout loss in the series. They have been shut out five times dating to Aug. 9.
“I’ll never give up on them,” Joe Girardi said about his inconsistent hitters. “It’s not my personality. We’ve just got to continue to grind it out and try to get better every day.”
They’re running out of days.
The Yankees remained 4 1/2 back of Seattle for the second wild card with 21 to play.
Here’s my story on the game and the happenings with Brett Gardner and David Phelps.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees pregame: Derek Jeter Day • 09.07.14
There are No. 2 flags waving in the breeze around the top of Yankee Stadium. There’s a No. 2 logo painted on the grass in front of each dugout. The Yankees were all greeted with a commemorative bottle of wine sitting upright on the chairs in front of their locker with the No. 2 over pinstripes on the label.
It’s Derek Jeter Day.
“I’m sure it’ll be extra special,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s probably a day in a sense that a player doesn’t want to have.”
That’s because it signifies the end is near.
“I hope he does take it in,” Girardi said of the ceremony.
He hopes the rest of the Yankees will take it in as well.
“I think it’s important they understand what he’s meant to the organization, what he’s meant to our fan base, the importance of playing the game right,” Girardi said.
Next year will be very different without Jeter. This is really the end of an era.
“The thing you get used to in this game is people come and go,” Girardi said. “… He’s going to be missed. There’s no doubt about it. But the game will go on. No individual is bigger than the game.”
Girardi didn’t have a lineup yet when he met with us. The hurting Brett Gardner was the issue. Girardi didn’t think he would be available to start. Gardner said it might be a lower abdominal strain, but he wasn’t sure. Gardner, who also had this problem earlier in the season and missed a game, sat out Saturday.
Asked about if it could possibly get worse if he played, Gardner said, “Just the way it feels like, it could.”
David Phelps threw a 31-pitch simulated game and said he felt good. He will return from his upper elbow inflammation as a reliever. But there was no word yet on when he will be activated.
“I feel like I made some good pitches,” Phelps said. “I was just nice to be out there with some adrenaline flowing. … It feels good enough to get guys out right now.”
Photo by The Associated Press.
Just an observation: Joe Girardi no longer seems upset or disappointed when he hears questions about whether the Yankees offense is ever going to get any better this season. Girardi still strongly backs his team, shows nothing but confidence in them, but it’s as if every answer comes with an unspoken line: “But I can understand why you’re asking.”
Most of today’s pregame press conference was all about whether the Yankees really are good enough to make a playoff run in these final five weeks or so.
Does Girardi ever think that his team just might not be good enough?
“No, I don’t, because I know how hard it is to play this game,” he said. “Obviously we’re judged on the results. I look at the effort. And I know the results are very important because, if the effort is not there, there is no chance of having results. The effort is there everyday. I talked about it yesterday. We (had) seven or eight guys hitting early trying to figure this out and get going, so I will be optimistic as long as they continue to prepare correctly and they work hard.”
To which Michael Kay made this point: If they’re prepared, and they’re focused, and they’re approaching everything the right way, is there a chance they just aren’t good enough?
“I don’t believe that,” Girardi said.
So what do you do?
“You keep running guys out there and believe it’s going to change,” Girardi said. “Eventually it’s going to be right and it’s going to be consistent over a long period.”
At this point, the Yankees are far enough behind teams that they’re going to need some help along the way. They can’t simply sweep three games against Detroit next week and climb into the wild card lead. It’s not a comfortable position, but the Yankees — Girardi included — seem well aware that they put themselves in this spot.
“It becomes a concern when you get down to the last three, four weeks of the season,” Girardi said. “But it’s a concern now. But my bigger concern is us, not the other teams. Because if we don’t win, it doesn’t matter what the other teams do in front of us. My focus is still our club, and if we play really good baseball down the stretch, we have a shot.”
• Zelous Wheeler is up and Chase Whitley has been optioned to Triple-A. Without Carlos Beltran for a few days, the Yankees were going to be down to a two-man bench, so they added Whitley who can play some infield and outfield. The Yankees also face a left-handed pitcher today, and lefties on Friday and Sunday. So a right-handed bat is a solid fit. “With Carlos being an uncertainty for a day or two, we felt that we could use the extra bat,” Girardi said.
• The Yankees had been carrying eight relievers since the trade deadline, so this basically puts their roster back to the typical alignment. Whitley will likely go down until September, and then return when rosters expand. I don’t think he’ll even burn an option. Pretty sure a player has to stay down for 20 days to burn one.
• Beltran said yesterday that he hopes to play on Friday. Girardi made that sound like a real long shot. “I think you’ll start to have a pretty good idea by Saturday where we’re headed with this, if we can get him back fairly quickly,” Girardi said.
• Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to face hitters on Saturday. Should be a live batting practice session (or perhaps a sim game, which is more or less the same thing). “Our plan is that it will probably be here, but we’ve got figure out who to face,” Girardi said.
• The plan for David Phelps? “Until he starts throwing bullpens, I’m not ready to put a timetable out,” Girardi said. “Obviously we felt we could get him back much quicker (making him a reliever). You don’t need to build him up nearly as much. Right now I believe he’s going to play catch again today. I’ve got to talk to Stevie to see when the first time he has him off a mound and then you’ll have a better idea.”
Associated Press photos
Yankees could have used a rain out tonight. Here’s David Ginsburg from The Associated Press to wrap up the latest Yankees disappointment. By the way, I have to agree with Girardi on the call at first base. Not sure Stephen Drew should have been called out on that one.
BALTIMORE (AP) — Maybe Yankees manager Joe Girardi got lucky with his 26th career ejection: He didn’t have to watch from the dugout as New York blew a late lead in a painful defeat.
Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones homered in a four-run eighth inning that carried the AL East-leading Orioles to a 5-3 win Wednesday night.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Yankees, who fell eight games out in the division with 43 to play. At this juncture, winning the AL East just might be too formidable a task.
“I think we’re looking more at the second wild-card spot. That’s a little bit better number, it’s a little more achievable at this point,” said reliever Shawn Kelley, who gave up Jones’ game-winning shot.
Girardi missed the finish after being ejected in the seventh inning by home plate umpire Gerry Davis. Girardi was furious after Davis called New York’s Stephen Drew out for running in the baseline on his way to first base.
“Yeah, well, Gerry was wrong,” Girardi said.
Girardi’s second ejection of the year came with New York ahead 2-1 on the strength of Francisco Cervelli’s second home run of the year, a two-run drive in the third inning off Chris Tillman.
The lead didn’t stand up, and now the Yankees are scrambling to stay in the playoff hunt.
“We’ve got to start winning series again,” Girardi said. “We have not won the last two series and we put ourselves in a little bit of a hole.”
Cervelli said, “We can do it. This is not done yet.”
After Schoop tied it with a drive off Dellin Betances, Kelley (2-4) gave up a single and a walk before Jones hit a shot into the bullpen area beyond the center-field wall.
“We had a lead late, and that’s one thing we’ve done well as a whole as a bullpen,” Kelley said. “A lot of that’s on me tonight.”
Darren O’Day (4-1) worked the eighth and Zach Britton gave up a run in the ninth en route to his 25th save.
“It’s tough right now because they are hitting very good,” Cervelli said. “They’ve got a couple of hitters who are really hot right now.”
Making his first appearance in the big leagues since April 23, New York starter Michael Pineda retired the first 12 batters he faced before Nelson Cruz doubled to open the fifth.
Pineda allowed one run and two hits over five innings. After being suspended for 10 games for using a foreign substance on the mound in April, the right-hander went on the disabled list with a shoulder muscle injury. He left after throwing 67 pitches.
“We thought he started getting the ball up a little bit,” Girardi said.
Baltimore played without its two starters on the left side of the infield. Third baseman Manny Machado was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee ligament and shortstop J.J. Hardy missed a third straight game with a sprained left thumb.
Tillman gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings.
Associated Press photos
Three nights in Baltimore • 08.11.14
This is a big series coming for the Yankees, three in Baltimore against the first-place Orioles.
The Yankees still have dreams of winning the AL East, even with their sporatic offense. But they will show up tonight trailing by six games.
“We can’t afford to lose any more ground,” Mark Teixeira said. “It’s getting late for that.”
The Yankees still have 10 games left against Baltimore, including seven in September. They are at 61-56 after Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Cleveland that capped a 4-3 homestand. They scored just one run in their final 20 innings in the series. (Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story on the Yankees’ lack of offense the past two days and Hiroki Kuroda’s struggle Sunday.)
The Orioles lost to St. Louis 8-3 on Sunday, but they are still 17 over .500, at 67-50. The Yankees are 14-9 since the All-Star break, including 6-4 in August. Baltimore is 15-8, including 7-3 in August. The Orioles won 12-2 and 10-3 in the first two games against the Cardinals.
“This is the team we’re chasing,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s very important that we win a series at the least. We have to play extremely well because they’re playing well. … They’ve been hot lately and they’ve been scoring runs, so we’re going to have to hold them down.”
Chris Capuano, Shane Greene and Esmil Rogers or Michael Pineda will start for the Yankees, who are also 2 1/2 behind the Royals for the second wild card.
So do you think the Yankees can catch Baltimore?
Nick Markakis photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees postgame: No O • 08.10.14
When Jacoby Ellsbury homered with two outs in the ninth, the Yankees snapped their season-high streak of 19 straight innings without a run.
Somehow that streak didn’t seem shocking even though they scored five in the sixth Friday night when they won 10-6. There have been too many dead stretches by this team. The new guys may have improved the defense, but the consistency offensively hasn’t been there, meaning they have fit right in.
The Indians took the series with the 4-1 win that followed Saturday’s 3-0 victory. (Here’s my Lohud.com story on what happened Sunday.)
Joe Girardi credited the pitching that the Yankees faced the last two days and for much of the last week, considering the Tigers’ staff. He also said these punchless stretches of games this season have puzzled him at times. But he said this is part of baseball now.
“I think we got caught up with teams scoring 900 runs in the past,” Girardi said. “That’s not happening anymore.”
Mark Teixeira, while also crediting the Cleveland pitching, gave a realistic assessment of this offense.
“We haven’t really been great all year,” Teixeira said. “We just need to try to do our best and scratch runs when we can and pick it up a little bit.”
Teixeira went 1 for 4 in his return after three games off. He said he was happy with how his pinkie felt.
Hiroki Kuroda felt his pitching was rather subpar. He allowed three runs, five hits and four walks, plus hit a batter and threw a wild pitch in 4 2/3. He also gave a realistic assessment, saying his command was off.
The 39-year-old righty indicated that he was less than 100 percent as well.
“Everybody look around,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “It’s hard to find players 100 percent physically. So you’ve got to be able to respond with whatever you’ve got.”
Bryan Mitchell responded well in his major-league debut. The 23-year-old righty gave up just one walk and struck out two while working the final two innings. He said he was nervous.
“Knowing that I’ve done this before, I’ve been here, I’ve pitched here, I think it’ll be not easy obviously, but it will be a lot easier next time,” Mitchell said.
Ellsbury batted .417 (10 for 24) in the 4-3 homestand. The Yankees headed to Baltimore for a three-game series. They are 61-56 and trail the Orioles by six games. And the Yankees are 2 1/2 back of the Royals for the second wild card.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees pregame: Teixeira watch • 08.10.14
Joe Girardi is really hopeful he can stick with the lineup he put together today for the series finale against the Indians, the one with Mark Teixeira batting cleanup and playing first after missing three games.
Teixeira is testing his left pinkie in batting practice.
“It’s important to us,” Girardi said. “It means we can move some other people around and do some things that would help us, and you get him in the middle of the order where he’s been productive. It would be nice.”
Girardi still had no decision to announce on Wednesday night’s starter in Baltimore, Michael Pineda or Esmil Rogers. It will be the finale of a three-game series. The Yankees are in second, trailing the Orioles by six games at the moment.
“They’re important games because we’re chasing them,” Girardi said. “They have a lead in our division and that’s where we want to be, on top of the division. I think we have 10 more games with them. But the important thing is that we continue to take series, like we have an opportunity to today. And you need to do that if you want to play in October.”
Hiroki Kuroda goes today. The 39-year-old hasn’t shown signs of wearing down like he did last year, at least not yet.
“I’ve been really pleased,” Girardi said. “We’ve been somewhat conscious of his workload. I know the one day in Texas we had to push him (to 115 pitches), but we knew he had an extra day. I think the last start he threw 90 pitches (actually 91). It was seven innings, though. We’ll continue to watch him.”
Girardi seems in no hurry to get Carlos Beltran back in right.
“He’s been throwing,” Girardi said. “He definitely feels better. But … with the flexibility we got with (Martin) Prado, we feel less of a rush, not a rush, but we’re OK. It’s subject to change, but we’ll see what happens.”
Photo by The Associated Press.
Jeter hits another milestone • 08.10.14
The ball ironically was a roller toward short. The Indians’ Jose Ramirez had no play. An infield hit for Derek Jeter. But not just any hit.
This sixth-inning hit in Saturday’s 3-0 loss by the Yankees gave the retiring 40-year-old Captain 3,431 for his career. It gave him sole possession of sixth on the all-time list, passing Honus Wagner.
“You have more hits than anyone who’s played the position at all,” Jeter said. “It’s something I’m extremely proud of. Obviously I would’ve liked to have won the game, but it’s something I’ll be able to tell my kids one day about.”
Tris Speaker sits in fifth place at 3,514, so he’s ahead by 83 with 46 games left in the regular season. Sixth isn’t too bad a way to go out. Passing an immortal name like Wagner’s isn’t too bad, either.
“The people he has passed, it’s unbelievable,” Joe Girardi said. “This guy has been consistent for us all year long. There were a lot of questions of where he would be at, but he’s played pretty well.”
Jeter has played in 103 games and is batting .276 with 12 doubles, a triple, three homers and 30 RBI.
Here’s my story on Jeter’s latest feat, Brandon McCarthy’s problems with comebackers and the Yankees’ latest loss. Also, here’s my Yankees’ notebook on Paul O’Neill Day, Michael Pineda, the roster moves and Ichiro Suzuki’s somewhat-lesser milestone hit. I’ll be back with the Yankees’ lineup later this morning.
Photo by The Associated Press.