Yankees Postgame Notebook: 'A win is a win, and we need a lot of them'
As Girardi alluded to in referencing Sunday's seventh inning during his pregame press conference, he knows that no lead is safe until the game is over - and there were definitely flashbacks in the minds of many as a rough outing by David Robertson turned a looming easy win into a nail-biter.
"We've brought in guys that have done the job all year and we eventually got it done, but (David Robertson) made it a little closer than we would've liked," Girardi said.
Robertson relieved CC Sabathia with two on and one out in what was a 6-1 game, and by the time he left one-third of an inning later, it was 6-5 with the tying run in scoring position and Mariano Rivera had to come in to put out the fire.
"They jumped on some first pitches on him - I didn't necessarily think they were bad pitches - and he got some ground balls but they just weren't at people," Girardi said.
"It was a tough inning; I couldn't make anything work, and it seemed like everything I threw either found a hole or was hit hard," Robertson added. "I was just trying to make good pitches and get an out. (Squandering a big lead) is definitely what I don't want to do…I stunk out there today, but when you pitch 65 or 70 games a year you're going to have one or two bad ones, and luckily Mo bailed me out."
However, Rivera shut the door by getting four straight outs, earning his 41st save and protecting what had been a quality start by CC Sabathia, who Girardi lifted after 7 1/3 innings and 111 pitches.
"I thought CC was pretty good tonight; I don't think too many pitches cut, and he gave us a lot of distance tonight," Girardi said. "He threw a lot of pitches the first two innings, but to get into the eighth inning was important for us."
"I was just trying to be aggressive and pound the strike zone, and I was able to get some swings on early pitches and go deeper in the game," Sabathia added. "In the first innings, my fastball command was all over the place (but) I was able to make pitches when I needed to. It feels good to go deep in the game; the way I've been pitching, to go out there and battle and help the team win feels good."
It was the second straight start that Sabathia was lifted in the middle of an inning after getting into a jam, but he reiterated what he told the media on Friday: getting the W is the most important thing.
"I always hate to leave in the middle of an inning, especially with runners on base that put D-Rob in a tough situation - it's frustrating on my part, but as I said last time, I'm not at liberty to argue with the way I've pitched this year," Sabathia said. "(But) I have been feeling more confident lately, and hopefully I can keep building off of this and hopefully put a string of good starts together. I just need to keep being aggressive and pitching in the strike zone."
Offensively, Robinson Cano got the Yankees on the board with a first-inning home run.
"I think it helps with the guys that are behind him now, because they can do a lot of damage. Soriano has been extremely hot and Alex and Grandy have both swung the bat well, so that definitely helps him.
They then tacked on four in the fourth, as Lyle Overbay made debuting rookie Erik Johnson pay for an error by drilling an RBI double before Brett Gardner tripled in two more runs and Cano singled for his second RBI.
Gardner has also been red hot of late, with six extra-base hits over his last 20 at-bats, and as Girardi eloquently stated, the length of the lineup indeed begins with his center fielder.
"He's set the table early in games and had a big triple tonight…he's played really, really well, and we're going to need that to continue," Girardi said. "He's faced a couple of tough left-handers lately - including one last night - but he's played really well."
"I'm not sure what's going on, if I knew I'd try to be doing it all year long," Gardner joked, "but tonight we needed to get a run in and he fell behind in the count, so I got a good pitch to hit."
And in the end, it was a four-out save from Mariano Rivera that sealed the deal, a phenomenon that Girardi said may happen more often in what is the final few weeks of Rivera's Hall of Fame career.
"As much as I need to do it and feel that he's capable of doing it, I will."
A few other notes and quotes following the Yankees sweep of the White Sox:
-One of the game's bizarre plays was what appeared to be David Robertson striking out Jeff Keppinger on a foul tip, but first base ump Mike Everitt overruled plate ump Tim Welke and said the ball dropped, extending the at-bat. Robertson got Keppinger to pop out shortly after, and when asked about whether that may have bothered D-Rob, Girardi succinctly shot the idea down: "I don't think (he was bothered). I was, but he got the guy out, so I don't think so."
-Gardner on the importance of CC Sabathia (and the entire rotation) continuing to pitch well: "It's time for everybody to step up. We've got three weeks left, and every game is a must win…it doesn't matter who you're playing, it's a big time of the year and hopefully we can keep playing good baseball."
-Last word goes to Sabathia, who perfectly summed up the whole of the Yankees' current situation: "At this point, a win is a win, and we need a lot of them."