After Subway Sweep, Yankees look to get back to winning ways against Red Sox
Coming off a sweep by the Mets in this year's Subway Series, the Yankees may seem to be reeling - but as manager Joe Girardi said, once a new series begins, the mission is always clear.
"You come out and try to win the first game and try to win a series," Girardi said after Thursday's loss. "Before these last few games, we've been winning a lot of series, so you have to put the past behind you and focus on the Red Sox."
When the two teams met in the season's opening series in the Bronx, a meeting the Sox took two of three games in, no one really knew what to make of it; the Yankees had several key players on the disabled list and a handful of newcomers filling the holes, while the Red Sox of April 1, 2013 were a dramatically different bunch than the one that left the Bronx at season's end last September.
But as it stands, this meeting will be one between the first and second place teams in the AL East, with the Yankees able to reclaim sole possession of first with a sweep.
That said, the usually offensively-charged Yankees are coming off a Subway Series where they scored a total of seven runs over four games, three times tallying just a single score and ending up getting swept in a season series of four or more games for just the second time in franchise history.
That may seem uncharacteristic of a team that, counting May 13's doubleheader in Cleveland, had won or split six of eight series with games played in May - but as Girardi said, sometimes, it just happens.
"I think whenever you're playing well and you go through a bad streak, you're always a little surprised because you don't know what triggers it," Girardi said. "It just happens, and then you start playing well again and you don't know what triggers that. When you play 162 games, you're going to go through these things. It's no fun when you're going through it, but it always turns."
For this series, however, the Yankees may have two of their big boppers back; it is expected that Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis could be activated as soon as Friday after quick rehab assignments in Trenton, and Girardi believes that both now and going forward, their presence will be a huge boost.
"(The returns) could be a great boost for us; I don't want to put too much pressure on them, but it depends on what kind of starts they get off to," Girardi said. "They could (give us mental reinforcement). The bottom line is they're very good players and you hope when they come back they feel really good and can be productive and help us win games."
"Those two guys are pretty proven players and they'll fit nicely into our lineup," Brett Gardner added.
When they do return, it's possible that Robinson Cano, who has spent a lot of time hitting second this season, could slide back down to the No. 3 or No. 4 hole depending on the lineup, but Girardi was noncommittal about where he'd place his team's current offensive leader.
"Your lineup against a right-hander could be different than your lineup against a lefty, so we may keep Robby in the two-hole at times," Girardi said. "The thing with Cano is that you want him to get as many at-bats as possible, so it's very possible we could keep him there."
Regardless of what happens and who helps that process along though, Girardi believes that as deflated as the Subway Series may have left the Yankees and their fans, the atmosphere will still be electric when first pitch is thrown Friday night.
"I sure hope so, I'm sure there will be a buzz in the air and excitement in the air, and (Friday) is as good a day to get back to our winning ways as any," Girardi said. "I think it does (feel like a big rivalry series); I don't know if that feeling ever goes away, but I think it feels that way now, because we've both played really well."
And, although many players were mum, Girardi's center fielder felt the same way.
"(Getting swept by the Mets) is frustrating, but what's done is done," Gardner said. "I still feel like we're in a good place and we have a big series coming up this weekend, so we have to forget about what happened with the Mets and come out and win a ballgame."