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.
Yankees postgame: From 10 runs to no runs • 08.09.14
After winning 10-6 in the series opener Friday night, the Yankees didn’t get much done again with bats their hands. They managed five hits and struck out 15 times against four pitchers in this 3-0 win by Cleveland, snapping their three-game winning streak.
Who was to blame?
Joe Girardi mostley blamed Corey Kluber. The right-hander gave up four of the hits and struck out 10 in six innings to improve to 13-6, including 7-1 in his last nine starts. This stretch comes with a 1.19 ERA. Girardi ranks him in the top five in the league.
“He’s got really good stuff,” Girardi said. “He’s got an outstanding slider that he uses against righties and lefties.”
“He’s nasty, man,” Derek Jeter said.
“Every time he toes the rubber, it’s a win,” Cody Allen said after picking up his 15th save.
The timely hitting sure wasn’t there. The Yankees finished 0 for 9 with six strikeouts with runners in scoring position. This was the fourth time they were shut out this season.
But they were also missing Brian McCann for the first of at least six games since he’s now on the 7-day concussion DL.
“It’s not what you want, but what we felt was necessary to do to protect him,” Girardi said.
They were also missing Mark Teixeira for the third straight game.
“He felt better,” Girardi said. “It’s possible tomorrow he’s a player for us. We’ll see.”
In the end, they wasted yet another outstanding start by Brandon McCarthy. He had to shake off the pain and numbness from a third-inning liner by Michael Brantley that got his right foot.
“It was Paul O’Neill Day,” McCarthy said. “It wasn’t Leave the Game Early Day.”
McCarthy allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3. He struck eight and walked none. This was his first loss in six starts since coming over from Arizona. He’s 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA. X-rays were negative on his foot.
Jeter had a memorable day, picking up hit No. 3,431, passing Honus Wagner for sole possession of sixth on the all-time list. The Captain did it with an infield hit in the sixth and called it a “wow” moment.
Ichiro Suzuki picked up hit No. 2,811, passing George Sisler for sole possession of 48th on the all-time list.
Here’s my Lohud.com story on McCarthy’s bad history with comebackers and what happened today. And here’s my Yankees notebook on Paul O’Neill getting his plaque, Michael Pineda’s positive feelings and some other items.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Mark Teixeira took some swings off a tee yesterday, testing the left pinkie that took a three-stitch cut on Wednesday. It didn’t go well.
“It’s not the cut,” Teixeira said this morning. “The joint is really, really sore.”
Then Teixeira tested it again after he spoke.
“He took swings and he felt better,” Joe Girardi said. “Hopefully it’s not much longer with him.”
The Yankees just announced that Brian McCann is going on the 7-day concussion DL. He suffered a mild concussion on a foul tip to the face mask in last night’s game. Austin Romine was recalled from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Brian Roberts was unconditionally released.
Michael Pineda went 4 1/3 for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Friday night, allowing one run and six hits while striking out seven. He threw 72 pitches.
“Everything is there,” Pineda said, back at his locker this morning. “The velocity is there. I’m feeling good. I’m happy with that.”
That was his second rehab start in his latest comeback from the upper back muscle strain near that right shoulder. Asked if he’s ready to pitch for the Yankees again, Pineda said, “I’m ready for pitching, yeah.”
Esmil Rogers turned in a strong five-inning start last night, filling in for the injured David Phelps. Both Rogers and Pineda are set to throw a bullpen session tomorrow, so both are on line for Wednesday.
But will Pineda make his return that night against the first-place Orioles in Baltimore?
“That’s something we’ll have to talk about,” Girardi said. “Ideally you’d like to get someone to 90 pitches. … We’ll sit down, Brian (Cashman) and the people who saw it, and decide what’s next for him.”
Paul O’Neill is receiving his Monument Park plaque honor before the game.
“The intensity he brought, I used to love to watch,” Girardi said.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Opening up the DH spot • 07.28.14
Joe Girardi is looking forward to Carlos Beltran being able to play some in right again because it’s going to give the manager more flexibility without having one guy locked into the DH role.
“I’m sure Gardy could probably use a DH day,” Girardi said. “Ells could use a DH day. These guys are run out there on a regular, regular basis. It probably wouldn’t hurt them. By having (Beltran) and Ichiro, who’s an outstanding outfielder as well, I could probably do some things.”
Girardi indicated Beltran could be back out there as soon as next week, barring any setback with the bone spur in his right elbow that caused him to miss 21 games while on the DL in May and early June.
“He’s continuing to throw,” Girardi said. “He has progressed and he has thrown more and more distance as we’ve went on, and he’s done some outfield drills early.”
Beltran wants to get back out there, but it’s a process for him. After yesterday’s 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays, he said he had only been throwing for five days.
“Right now, throwing 90 feet isn’t going to do it,” said Beltran, who has picked it up offensively of late, batting .314 on the 10-game homestand to lift his average to .228. “So when I get to I guess 140, something like that, where I can make a throw from the outfield to home plate on a do-or-die play, let it go, then I will be close to playing games. Right now, I’m not.”
The Yankees, of course, could also acquire another outfield bat before Thursday’s nonwaiver deal deadline, which could impact how Beltran would be used.
Then there’s the question of who will mainly be used to back up the now oft-injured Mark Teixeira.
After missing the last seven games with a strained lat, Girardi didn’t rule out Teixeira returning as soon as tonight in Texas, depending on how felt today when he woke up after taking 50 swings yesterday and how he feels following live batting practice later, if he’s good to swing more.
With Kelly Johnson going on the DL Wednesday due to a strained groin, Brian McCann became the regular fill-in at first instead of squatting behind the plate. If Teixeira needs a day off, it figures to be Johnson’s job to fill in once he returns, according to Girardi. Johnson is eligible to return Aug. 7.
“We don’t anticipate Kelly Johnson’s injury is going to be long,” Girardi said. “So probably when I give Mac a day off (from catching), I’ll give him a day off.”
Here’s my latest story on what went on yesterday and Girardi’s frustration over the loss and really the mistakes of the last two days.
Photo by The Associated Press
Yankees postgame: Girardi frustrated • 07.27.14
Joe Girardi wasn’t thrilled over these last two games. The Yankees had beaten Toronto 17 straight times at Yankee Stadium, but they lost 6-4 Saturday and then 5-4 Sunday.
“It’s a team we’re fighting with obviously and it’s a frustrating loss,” Joe Girardi said after they fell a game back of the Blue Jays for the second wild card. “We fought back a number of times and we were never able to get a lead.
“Our miscues is what cost us in this series, really, when you look at. We’ve got to be better at that.”
David Robertson had a mental lapse in the ninth, leading to the go-ahead run. Jose Bautista was on first with two outs and stole second without a throw, leading to Dioner Navarro’s tiebreaking single.
“He can’t let a guy get a walking lead,” Girardi said.
“I just let him slip,” Robertson said. “I didn’t think he’d be going.”
Bautista said: “I know there was two outs and I figured it’s going to have to be a pretty long extra-base hit for me to score from first because I’m not the fastest guy on the team.”
This was the first game in which Robertson and Dellin Betances each surrendered at least one run. Betances had a big mess-up, too.
He walked Colby Rasmus on four pitches to open the eighth in a 3-3 game. Before Betances knew it, Rasmus was on third with no outs because of the wild pickoff throw to first.
“My cleat got stuck,” Betances said. “As soon as that happened, I had a feeling I was going to throw it away.”
Shane Greene departed after giving up an RBI double to Rasmus with one out in the sixth, making it 3-2 Jays.
“I’ve got to have a short memory, but that one hurt,” Greene said.
The Yankees have now failed to score more than four runs in 12 of the last 14 games.
There was a hitter in the ballpark who could help. Colorado All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who’s the subject of trade speculation, is on the DL with a hip flexor problem. He was back East to see a doctor in Philadelphia. Tulowitzki is a big Derek Jeter fan. He told The Denver Post he wanted to see Jeter play once last time.
Jeter said he wasn’t aware of it. The Post story said a Tulowitzki trade to the Yankees wasn’t imminent.
Jeter also said he had reached out Saturday to Joe Torre, who went into the Hall of Fame Sunday.
“I don’t think I’d be where I am now if it wasn’t for him,” Jeter said.
Here’s what I wrote for Lohud.com and The Journal News on the happenings at the Stadium Sunday and the big picture.
Photo by The Associated Press.