Yankees Postgame Notebook: 'It's not the result you want'
And yet, the narrative of the Yankees' 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay, their fifth loss in a row overall, is still going to be the team's failure to come through with the big hit when needed.
"I thought we did swing the bats better today, but we didn't score enough runs and never got the big hit," manager Joe Girardi said after the game.
The Yankees had three leads in the first four innings and had three guys with multiple-hit nights, but the score sheet says they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and got just one run outside of Gardner and McCann's homers.
"I knew there was a long way to go (after Gardner's homer)," he said, "but keep putting them on and hope someone gets a big hit is all that we can do. We didn't, and we made some miscues in the ninth that made it a three-run game and made it harder."
Perhaps McCann punctuated it best: "It's not the result you want; we got a lot of hits today, but we just couldn't put it together."
As said, there were positives; Gardner had a huge day, and as for McCann, hitting coach Kevin Long said he added a toe tap in the cage, and it worked out well according to the skipper and the backstop.
"I thought he swung the bat better. He's been working at it and trying to get better every day," Girardi said, with McCann adding that "it's irrelevant if we lose, but it was nice to find the battle and take what I've been working on in the cage into the game. Things I've been working on paid off."
And, as noted, Nuno only went five innings, but he did so giving up just three earned runs on eight hits, and of the four total runs he gave up, one came on a passed ball, one came because of a quasi-miscue by Alfonso Soriano, and another came on a home run after he had left the game.
His defense did bail him out at other times - Gardner's assist and Soriano making up for the miscue by throwing Sean Rodriguez out at second among them - and the lefty had a handle on both what went right and what went wrong after the game.
"Overall it felt good, and I was commanding all my pitches and getting ahead," he said, "but I gave up some balls over the middle of the plate and some hits went right over the bags. Our offense gave me a little run support, but they found a way to come back."
All said and done, though, the loss means the Yankees end their homestand 1-5 with four one-run losses, a lot of low-scoring games, and Girardi left being asked why the team can't seem to win at home (18-23) or in close games (9-10 in one-run affairs).
"I think before it seemed like we weren't hitting home runs and other teams were; we're starting to, but we're still being outhit and outscored. Some of the balls being hit are two-run and three-run homers, and that's starting to hurt us," he said. "We've won close games before, but it is one thing to lose it 7-6 and another to lose a few games 2-1 like we have. We didn't score too many runs on our homestand."
It also ends a stretch of 15 straight games against division opponents, one that Girardi even acknowledged was a squandered chance after starting 4-0 and ending 6-9.
"It started off good and ended bad, is probably the easiest way to say it," Girardi said. "We started off good against Toronto and lost every series after that, but we had a chance to win a number of close games we didn't, and that's the big difference. We didn't get the big hits."
Still, though, the skipper believes that even though his team is under .500 for the first time since they were 5-6 in April, nothing is a lost cause just yet.
"(Confidence) won't be a problem because I never saw us quit today; this team never quits and they won't quit. I still believe in this team, because there's talent in that room. We just need to play better, and that's a lot of different phases of the game. We have to find a way to get it done, and I think there's some really good leadership in that room."
A few more notes from the Yankees' final home game before the break:
-Nuno on his pitching performance over the last week: "It's a step forward. The cutter is coming along and I'm trusting all my pitches. I'm maturing and trying to figure out what I have to do every five days; the only thing I can control is what I'm throwing, and my main concern is going out and competing."
-Matt Thornton got a second day off because he has been "a little sore" the last couple days, according to the skipper, although the lefty likely would have pitched today if the Yankees had a lead: "I figured without having the lead, I was going to give him a couple days off…but he was a little stiff, because he's been used a lot and been up a lot."
-Yangervis Solarte was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is now 3-for-41 since June 10, but the skipper said he hasn't noticed a change in the rookie infielder: "You worry about young kids and how they will respond; he came up in some big situations today and didn't get any hits, but I've been in that situation and I know what it feels like. It's our job to keep him going. … But he comes ready to play every day and his personality is the same."
-Mark Teixeira said he had his knee drained last night more as a precaution than anything, and should be good to go tomorrow: "I've been putting it off because it's not fun, but Dr. Ahmad wanted to do it so that something didn't pop up on the road trip to make me miss a few games."
-Nuno on the state of the team: "Right now we're going through a funk. It's part of the game, but we're still battling and working hard."
-Last word goes to Girardi, coming when asked if he thinks bringing someone up for a "jolt" would help the Yankees: "That's not my area…I've always said that my job is to manage the guys that are in that clubhouse, and I'll continue to do that. Last year I managed a lot of different people, and whatever it takes, I'll do."