Postgame notes: Yanks can't close sweep

Tough outing for Phelps lets game slip away in the 12th
04/19/2013 12:35 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

A rare bad outing for David Phelps cost the Yankees on Thursday night.(AP)
The Yankees almost stole a series sweep from the Diamondbacks on Thursday night, but a big blow off the bat of ex-Yankee Eric Chavez helps Arizona escape New York with a series-closing 6-2 win.

David Phelps took the loss, allowing four runs in the 12th inning, but Joe Girardi wasn't too down on his young righty and actually praised the bullpen as a whole.

"I mean he just made some mistakes, he got a couple of balls up and (Gerardo) Parra leads off with a double. That kind of puts you behind the eight ball right from the beginning, but I thought our bullpen did a great job of wiggling out of some jams earlier and giving us an opportunity to win," Girardi said.

Phelps allowed leadoff doubles in both of his innings pitched, but while he was able to wiggle out of a jam in the 11th, he wasn't as lucky in the 12th.

"I just have to get leadoff hitters out, and I have to make better pitches with guys on base," Phelps said. "In an extra-inning game they're looking to score one run; (after a double), a bunt and a sac fly and they score, so you really have to get to making pitches right away and make better pitches, that's what it boils down to."

One of the things that spurred Arizona's rally was a catcher's interference call on Francisco Cervelli, which came on an 0-2 pitch to Paul Goldschmidt. That was actually the second such call on Cervelli on the night, but Phelps said you can't even try to blame the bad inning on something like that.

"It is what it is. It happens, but catcher's interference didn't make me leave a ball over the middle of the plate to Cody Ross," Phelps said. "I'm going to pitch again, so I just have to go out there and do a better job next time."

On the other end, the Yankees starter, Phil Hughes, allowed just two runs on six hits over seven innings, and credited a conversation with pitching coach Larry Rothschild for helping him settle in after two rocky starts.

"I felt like I was being more aggressive. I talked to Larry and he got me back into that reliever mentality, just coming out of the gate and being more aggressive," Hughes said. "I feel like I did a better job of that. I wasn't so worried about my mechanics and just went with what felt natural and gave it all I had."

Cervelli agreed, saying Hughes was particularly aggressive with his fastball, and Girardi was happy with his hurler's overall repertoire on the night.

"I thought he threw well. I thought he located a lot better, and I thought he had his off-speed today; he had his whole repertoire, where the last start he didn't have that," Girardi said.

Hughes did give up two more home runs, but said that he believes it comes with the territory of his pitching style and he has to simply manage the mistakes rather than try to eliminate them.

"I just have to try to limit the home runs, and if I can do that I can give us a chance to win every time I go out there," he said, "but I'm not going to lose my aggressiveness. I feel like a major key to my success is going out and attacking guys, but what comes along with that is that I'm going to give up home runs. If I make better pitches I can limit it, but at the same time I'm not going to try to nibble and get corners; I'm going to go after guys."

More clubhouse notes from the final game of the homestand:

-The pair of catcher's interference calls marked, according to Baseball Reference, just the 17th time that has ever happened and the first to the Yankees. Joe Girardi's take on the situation: "They took some really late swings. He (Cervelli) was probably a little bit too close; off a team you don't necessarily know so well, so there are a few guys that have a history doing that, having late swings like that with a team that you haven't seen. Gregorius we've never seen and you just don't know."

-Cervelli agreed with Girardi's take on the late swings, but said he had was a little more blunt, simply saying he's never seen that happen and that he had "no excuses…it's my fault and that's it." The game was one of highs and lows for the backstop, who hit the game tying home run in the ninth but had those two errors called on him, but the most important thing he took out of the game was the result.

"I just go there and see the ball and hit the ball, that's it. That's what I try to do," he said, "but the homer right now doesn't mean anything because we lost. I don't care if I hit three homers; if we lose, I'm not happy, so I have to be better next time."

-Derek Jeter's injury was a hot topic in the clubhouse, especially since Joe Girardi told the media pre-game (and before Brian Cashman's press conference) that he knew nothing more than that Jeter had gone to see the doc. After the game, however, he weighed in on the situation. "It's not what we wanted, that's for sure. It's disappointing, and I know it's extremely disappointing for him because he's so used to being here with us," Girardi said. "It's something we're going to have to fight through and some guys are really going to have to step up in his absence, and hopefully we'll get him back sometime after the All-Star break."

-One of those guys who will have to step up is Eduardo Nunez, who has been filling in as the everyday shortstop so far and will continue to do so for the next few months. Nunez said he felt bad for Jeter and wished him a speedy recovery, and then smiled when asked if it was somewhat ironic that he made his first error of the season on the same night Jeter's diagnosis was revealed.

"It's not going to be the last, so I have to just turn the page and keep working hard," he said.

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