Monday, April 9, 2012

Yankees Sunday Night notes after a lost weekend in Tampa

Here are the postgame notes after the Yankees were swept in Tampa.  They didn't play particularly well but everything seemed to go wrong.  The Rays played extremely well and seemed to do everything right.  Here are some quotes from the Yankees clubhouse mixed in with some notes coming from the Yankees beat and also press notes. 

After a third-straight loss to open the season, sentiment in the Yankees clubhouse seemed to be universal.

“The at-bats have been consistent and pretty solid, swinging at strikes,” Alex Rodriguez said. “Everything they did worked out perfectly. Everything we did worked out imperfectly.”

Even after a three-hit, 3-0 shutout, the Yankees seemed to be shaking their heads more than hanging their heads. This isn’t usually a make-excuses clubhouse, but the Yankees seemed honestly happy with the way they hit this weekend, they just weren’t happy with the number of hits. In terms of line drives and hard-hit balls, the Yankees didn’t have a particularly bad weekend, but the Rays aggressive use of a defensive shift worked incredibly well. With three losses by a total of six runs, missed opportunities carried considerable weight.  It was a very frustrating series.  I think only the Rays can get away with all the shifts, Joe Maddon is known as being quirky and if the Yankees or Red Sox did it, the press would go crazy. 

“That’s a defense I’ve never seen before,” Nick Swisher said. “I don’t think anybody has ever seen that, especially to everybody. You’re talking about everybody from Curt to Al, Cano, Tex, myself. I can even think of a hard-hit ball Tex had last night, man, takes that run away. Curt hit two lasers up the middle yesterday and (Sean) Rodriguez was standing right behind second base. We can’t get frustrated because we’re not getting results because we are putting great at-bats together. We’re doing things the right way. We just haven’t picked up that first W yet.”  I would agree with Swisher, I have seen extreme shifts but to every player??  I have never seen that and the thing is it worked, the Yankees so many times in the series looked to have hits and RBI and boom a fielder was right there, I have no idea how they did it but they seemed to be playing with extra fielders. 

Even with the shift, the Yankees scored six runs both Friday and Saturday, but still couldn’t get a win. Today the Yankees finally had a well-pitched game, but it came with a near complete-game shutout from Jeremy Hellickson.  You can say a lot of things but the bottom line is pitching and if the Yankees 1 and 2 starters pitch the way they should, the Yankees win the first two games and we are singing a different tune right now.  They didn't pitch well, the Yankees lost and now they are 0-3.  It is a long season though with many peaks and valleys, you just don't want the valley to happen in the beginning. 

“I don’t want to take anything away from the kid,” Joe Girardi said. “But we lined out a number of times, and that’s going to happen.”

Said Mark Teixiera: “That’s why I like hitting home runs, because they can’t catch it when you hit home runs. You can score a lot of runs that way. But if you’re not hitting home runs, you’re at the mercy of the balls falling it. I thought we swung the bats well all weekend, we just didn’t have much to show for it.”  I don't like this statement because I think too often the Yankees think that way.  If you have second and third one out, just hit a sac fly or a single, they try to do too much and end up doing nothing because of it. 

 Not a bad outing for Phil Hughes, just a short outing. He allowed two runs — one on a misplayed ball by Raul Ibanez, another on a solo homer by Carlos Pena — but runs weren’t the problem. “I just have to put guys away early in counts and try and have some quick innings in the middle innings,” Hughes said. “Obviously you’re going to have jams every now and then, but if you can get some quick innings to move things along, it helps. The pitch count was the issue today.”

 Hughes actually broke Matt Joyce’s bat on that first-inning triple, but Ibanez — starting in right field for the first time since 2005 — misread the ball, then misplayed it. “He hit it off the end and it had some top spin on it,” Ibanez said. “I misread it, the velocity of the ball, and then I tried to make a play instead of laying up. I tried to go for it with a guy on second base and it didn’t work out. I screwed it up.”

 On the Pena home run, Hughes went to a fastball at 3-2. He said he’d thrown so many offspeed pitches in the at-bat that he thought he could surprise Pena with a fastball in that situation. Obviously Pena was ready for it.

This was the first time since Hughes’ major league debut that the Yankees were held scoreless in a Hughes start. Last year, Hughes led all major league pitchers in run support per nine innings.

Girardi on Hughes: “I thought it was a pretty positive outing. Obviously you don’t want to see 100 pitches in five innings but overall I thought it was a pretty positive outing today. We saw his velocity the whole way throughout. He threw a really good changeup. His curveball and cutter were decent. He just got into some really long counts.

 Aside from the home run by Jeff Keppinger, Boone Logan looked pretty sharp in his first outing since feeling lower back tightness on the last day of spring training. He struck out three in an inning and a third. “I felt good,” Logan said. “Arm felt really good. I felt like there was more arm than whole-body in my delivery tonight. But I expected that. It felt like it got looser and looser the more pitches I threw, it didn’t get tighter, which is a good feeling to have. That (home run) ball just ran over the plate. What can you do?”

Girardi on the decision to let Logan stay in to face Keppinger: “I can’t use Mo, Robertson and Soriano every day, and when we’re losing, we try to get some innings out of some other guys down there. Boone had thrown the ball really well to three hitters, and then he made a mistake with the fastball. He finished up getting Molina, looking good.”

 Both Ibanez and Granderson fouled balls off their right legs and were limping a little, but both said it was no big deal. They expect to be fine tomorrow.

Another fan reached over the right-field wall to affect a ball in play today. This time it was properly ruled a double without the need for replay. Ibanez said it was the right call. He said the ball was going to hit the top of the wall, but he had no chance of catching it.

 Pretty good debut for David Phelps who faced two batters, getting a strikeout and a groundout. “It’s a great feeling,” Phelps said. “You dream about it your whole life. Jogging out to the mound when they called me, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really happening.’ I was fortunate enough to get ahead of the first guy. We had a good scouting report on him. Russ called all the pitches, and I just had to throw them. It was awesome. It’s what you hope for.”  This was the bright spot for the Yankees. 

 Last time the Yankees opened a season 0-3 was 1998. That season they were actually 1-4 and ended up winning 114 games, 125 overall as they won the World Series.  It is not a good start but it isn't the end of the world either.  The Yankees will now head to Baltimore for three games.  They usually enjoy success in Camden Yards and have a lot of Yankees fans in the house.  The Yankees will then have Thursday off and begin their home schedule on Friday afternoon againt the Anaheim Angels. 

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