The Yankees haven’t been fazed by this long run of bad injury luck this season. This 4-0 win over Chicago stopped their two-game mini-slide and marked their 16th victory in the last 21 games.
I asked Joe Girardi after the game about what their mindset has been in the face of all these injuries.
“Just to keep going,” Girardi said. “Just go a day at a time. I think people realize that there’s still a lot of talent in that room, that no one’s going to feel sorry for us, can’t feel sorry for yourself. People have got to step up. Every team is usually going to go through injuries. The teams a lot of times that overcome those injuries are the teams that play in the playoffs.”
During the first inning, I also asked a guy who knows a thing or two about leading a team past injuries and about winning Super Bowls for his view on the Yankees’ situation. Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who was here to throw out the first pitch, says he keeps an eye on what’s happening here.
“Adversity does make you stronger,” Coughlin said. “They’ve had a couple of setbacks. But I think they’re prepared for this kind of thing, and I think they’ll come through this very strong.”
They were strong overall in June, going 20-7, the first time the Yankees have been at least 20-game winners in a calendar month since August 2009 and only the second time since 2004. The warm month has coincided with Robinson Cano heating up.
“I think he’s a really big part of it,” Girardi said. “He’s had some really big hits for us this month. He’s been a real force in the middle of our lineup. … He’s really started to swing the bat and it changes us for sure.”
He finished June with 11 homers in the month, although Cano insists he has been nothing different.
“That’s quite a pace,” Girardi said. “If he can do that every month, he can end up with a lot of homers.”
Cano hit his 19th overall, a solo shot that gave him at least one RBI against the White Sox in 10 straight games. No Yankee had done that since Babe Ruth in 1931.
Curtis Granderson sees room for improvement elsewhere.
“Hopefully if we all get on the same page, we can have an even better month in July than we did in June,” Granderson said. “It was definitely a good month.”
It doesn’t seem like Hiroki Kuroda can get much better. He was just outstanding again, matching his career high with 11 Ks and allowing three singles over seven, two of them coming in the first.
“I think the whole game, he was in control,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “Moving it in and out … working the slider. He just never really gave anybody a good pitch to hit in a hitter’s count.”
Kuroda said through his interpreter that all the strikeouts kind of surprised him since he isn’t a power pitcher. He’s 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA over his last seven starts. Girardi thinks his arm strength has improved.
“I think I’ve been really aggressive lately,” Kuroda said.
Dewayne Wise has been getting a chance to play lately and he keeps showing up in the picture, be it flying into the stands for the catch that wasn’t really a catch, or pitching Friday night and retiring both batters he faced, or delivering a career-high-tying three hits as the starting left fielder in this game, including a solo drive to the second deck in right and an RBI double.
“It’s been crazy,” Wise said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Wise is 7 for 11 with five RBI on the homestand. He had four hits and no RBI in his 30 at-bats before this stretch.
“Just some opportunity and he’s taken advantage of it is what he’s doing,” Girardi said. “He’s swinging the bat real well.”
Sunday is Old-Timers’ Day. The ceremonies are scheduled to start at 11:15, and the Old-Timers’ game will follow. The series finale is scheduled for 2:05 with Phil Hughes and Gavin Floyd the pitching matchup. YES will televise the whole slate.