Yankees Postgame Notebook: 'This one hurts a little bit'
Greene came within one out of a quality start and saw half of his charged runs surrendered after he left the game.
"I'm honestly not that frustrated. I'd like to have a couple pitches back -- the single that scored in the sixth, and the double to Choo in the third -- but I felt pretty good," Greene said after the game.
You also can't blame the Yankees' shaky defense, which featured five errors, because, in reality, four of them didn't immediately hurt and three of them were on Greene himself. And even Matt Thornton, who yielded two singles to left-handed batters and a pair of inherited runners scoring, doesn't deserve the majority of the vitriol.
"There are going to be physical errors, those are going to happen, but I don't really think we made mental errors. It's unfortunate they all happened in one game -- or maybe it's not, so we get them out of the way, but those are going to happen," manager Joe Girardi said of the former, while explaining on the latter that "(Thornton is) our guy for lefties, we just didn't get them out."
Instead, on this night, a Yankees lineup that was missing two of its top three home run and RBI collectors sure looked like it. The team amassed only four hits in 7 1/3 innings against Rangers rookie Miles Mikolas -- who was 0-2 with a 10.05 ERA in three starts entering the night -- and squandered its best (and really only) scoring opportunity.
"It was an ugly game on our part. Our defense was bad, we didn't swing the bats particularly well; we made the pitcher work hard the first two innings, and he ends up getting into the eighth inning," the skipper said of the outing.
The Yankees indeed did have early success, and got on the board first with some small ball. Derek Jeter walked with one out in the first and advanced to second base on a balk, and after Jacoby Ellsbury's infield single moved The Captain to third, Carlos Beltran hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.
New York's one costly error -- Brian Roberts dropping the throw on what could've been a third-inning ending 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Adrian Beltre -- later allowed Texas to tie it, but Greene escaped further trouble (as he did for the majority of his start). Next inning, Ellsbury's solo homer leading off the frame gave them back a 2-1 lead.
From there, though, Mikolas retired 12 of the last 15 batters he faced and escaped trouble the one time he needed to, getting Jeter to ground into a fifth-inning ending 4-6-3 double play with the bases loaded.
"It looked like we put some long at-bats on him early," Girardi said of the turnaround, "but his command must've gotten better as the game went on, and we weren't able to do much."
The Rangers finally got to Greene and the Yankees in the next half-frame. The starter surrendering two singles and a walk (all with two outs) that tied the game; he was removed after allowing Geovany Soto's game-tying single, but all-in-all, the skipper thought his rookie righty had a very good outing.
"He threw a really good game, and they didn't really square up a lot of balls, but our defense, him included, hurt us," Girardi said. "You look at where he was through 5 2/3 innings, we had four or five errors, so that gets him into the seventh. He was still throwing the ball well then, but he gives up a broken-bat jam shot over the third baseman's head and it's 2-2."
"I think I was just rushing a little bit (in the sixth) and not exactly making the pitches I wanted to make, and they took advantage of it," Greene added. "I thought it was a good outing, I just have to keep grinding."
And as even Girardi noted, Greene's errors -- two throwing, one catching -- will probably be the more lasting memory of this performance than anything he did on the mound itself.
"(The trickle-down effect) is where (the errors) killed him," the skipper said. "If you look, he threw 110 pitches, and when he was at 80 he probably should've been through the sixth inning. It finally caught up to him."
After Thornton allowed the back-to-back singles to turn a 2-1 lead into a 4-2 deficit, Mikolas and Rangers' bullpen did the rest. Jeter's double play began a run where Mikolas retired the last eight batters he faced, and after Neal Cotts came in and walked Brett Gardner, the lefty struck out Jeter and got Ellsbury to fly out to squash the threat. Joakim Soria escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the ninth to record his 17th save.
Added all together, the sum of the parts is a tough home loss to the team with baseball's worst record.
"Obviously every time we go out there we want to win, but tonight hurts a little bit," Greene said.
Still, it is just one loss in the standings, and the Yankees have three more chances to beat Texas this week -- and as Girardi noted, whether it's against baseball's worst team or one of the best (like the Cincinnati Reds club they just swept), winning series are the name of the game.
"We need to win series, bottom line, if we're going to catch people," Girardi said. "But when you lose the first game like we did tonight, it makes it much more difficult."
A few other notes and quotes from a Monday night in the Bronx:
-Greene didn't believe the errors affected him mentally -- only saying "obviously I need to work on that" -- but the skipper had a different take: "Maybe a little bit, but it's hard to say. One play is a tough play, and the ball he threw over the first baseman's head is maybe a ball he should eat in a sense, but it's unfortunate. We've seen him do things right, for whatever reason he held onto the ball way too long and threw it up in the air."
-The Rangers, whose 14 players on the disabled list and 21 total DL stints led baseball heading into Monday, had the injury bug bite them twice. Catcher Geovany Soto, who just came off the DL on Friday after missing the entire first half, left the game after scoring in the sixth because of right groin tightness, and designated hitter Jake Smolinski was pinch-hit for in the ninth because of a bruised left foot suffered when he fouled a ball of his foot earlier in the game.
-Last word goes to Girardi, who was stoic when asked if he thought the absence of Mark Teixeira for at least the next few days puts the team's offense in even more of a bind: "Only time will tell. Obviously he's in the middle and we miss him, and we'd like to have him back. Like I said, we'll take three or four days and see where he's at, and make a decision what's next for him."