ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- While Joe Girardi tried to placate the New York Yankees’ increasingly dire situation with his usual platitudes and Pollyanna approach to a team that is now on a five-game losing streak, his clubhouse spoke with a couple other words that begin with the letter p -- pressing and pressure.
Yes, the Yankees admit, they are pressing and feeling pressure as the hourglass on the regular season shows more sand at the bottom than the top, and with it the Yankees find themselves falling more toward the bottom of the division and wild card standings, further removed from the playoff picture. Friday night’s 5-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t help.
“The morale is down a little bit,” Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long admitted. “We need something to turn, and we need it to turn pretty quick. Guys are starting to press a little bit, getting down a little bit. Our at-bats the last five games are probably not as good as they should be. That tells me guys are probably trying harder, pressing. There’s not a whole lot of laughter. We need to get guys smiling again.”
This five-game losing streak started with the Yankees getting shut out, as they were again Friday night. In both those games, Brandon McCarthy was the starter and came in with a solid performance -- for naught.
“It puts pressure on all of us,” McCarthy said. “I know the hitters feel pressure. We’re not scoring runs. It weighs on everybody. But it’s not a 'me thing.' I don’t think of it that way. We’re a team. It’s not a time to have your personal feelings hurt. The way I look at it, I’ve got to stop giving up runs.”
In other words, extra pressure.
To be sure, though, while there is pressure on everybody, it’s the offense where it’s weighing most heavy -- and for good reason.
“We’ve got to put together better at-bats,” left fielder Brett Gardner said. “It’s frustrating. Every day that goes by and we don’t get another win means we’re one step closer to going home at the end of September.”
Through 7 1/3 innings against Rays starter Alex Cobb, the Yankees managed only six hits and never more than one hit in an inning. Only once against Cobb did they get a runner past first base, and that was in the fourth inning, when Derek Jeter led off the inning with a single and went to second on a wild pitch, where he was left stranded.
“He was stingy with the hits,” Girardi said of Cobb. “We got some guys on, but it seemed like he got better when we got guys on base.”
Or maybe it was that the Yankees simply got worse from trying to press. That was the way first baseman Mark Teixeira saw it.
“We get a guy on first, and guys are thinking about hitting a two-run homer,” he said.
Once again -- pressure.
“We’re just not getting the job done,” Teixeira added. “You win and lose as a team, and we all need to step it up. Good teams feed off each other. Hitting is contagious. Unfortunately, not hitting is contagious. It’s definitely getting late. We really need to win some games. There’s definitely a sense of urgency here.”
Sense of urgency. In baseball terms, that’s synonymous with pressure. When teams feel pressure, they tend to press. And when that happens, the results are rarely good, as the Yankees this past week can attest to.
McCann update: Catcher Brian McCann said results from tests conducted on him pregame, as he recovers from a concussion he suffered the past Friday, were not in, as of postgame after the Yanks' loss to the Rays. McCann could be cleared to play Saturday, but he said that realistically he's "shooting for Sunday."