Commentary

Jorge can't make pain go away

Posada at catcher is feel-good story; rest of night is bad for banged-up Yanks

Updated: September 11, 2011, 12:04 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- On the YES broadcast, Michael Kay had to warn viewers they were not watching a Yankee Classic. The New York Yankees fans in attendance saw a 40-year-old emerge from the dugout in the third inning and stood up themselves.

Old No. 20 got behind the plate.

Not only did Jorge Posada strap on his gear for the first time all season, he almost immediately threw out Howie Kendrick trying to steal second. It was a high throw, but in plenty of time. At that point, Saturday night looked like it might be ripped from a local film writer's Hollywood proposal.

"I thought maybe this could be something," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who reluctantly turned to Posada. "Maybe he gets the game-winning hit."

[+] EnlargeJorge Posada
AP Photo/Jae HongJorge Posada put on his catcher's gear for the first time since last season's ALCS.

But the Yankees don't get game-winning hits anymore. Heck, they barely get hits or runs or wins anymore.

At least, not lately.

New York lost 6-0 to the Angels. Dan Haren retired 18 straight Yankees. The Yankees had just four hits and now have a grand total of one run and seven hits in their last 25 innings.

"We are just not swinging the bats," Girardi said.

The Yankees have lost four in a row, but the Red Sox are matching them loss for loss, so New York remains 2½ games up in the AL East. If it weren't for that, and the soft pillow of the wild card cushioning any potential fall, there could be room for concern.

The Yankees are banged up. Posada got to play because Russell Martin bruised his thumb on a foul tip and Francisco Cervelli is headed back to New York to undergo further tests for what could be another concussion.

Alex Rodriguez is out until at least the middle of this week, maybe longer. Nick Swisher's MRI showed an inflamed right elbow, which was good news, but the Yankees still don't know when he will play again. Besides having Posada behind the plate, Eduardo Nuñez -- and his 18 errors -- trotted out to right. He had two chances and handled both of them.

The rest of the outfield own dislocated bats. MVP candidate Curtis Granderson has five hits in his last 35 at-bats. Brett Gardner has only six hits in his last 46 at-bats.

The last time an Angels starter shut out the Yankees with four or fewer hits was May 23, 1995, the same day a young pitcher named Mariano Rivera made his debut.

Saturday could have been a day for the old guard. Derek Jeter led off the game with a double, but was left stranded there. The Yankees would only have one other baserunner in scoring position the whole night. With a single, Posada moved Eric Chavez to third in the eighth.

Girardi almost didn't use Posada as his catcher. At one point, rookie Jesus Montero had his gear on and thought he would go in to replace Martin.

"I would have lost the DH and that would have been difficult because it was so early in the game," Girardi said.

It would have been some slap in the face to Posada, who has carried his catching equipment all season with the idea that he could get a chance. Last winter, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told him to stay ready even though the team planned on making Posada a DH/backup first baseman.

The closest Posada had come to game action as a catcher was warming up pitchers.

"I didn't think in September it was going to happen," Posada said.

Posada got back there. CC Sabathia, who pitched six innings of one-run ball, said he was laughing with excitement.

"It was a welcome sight to see," Sabathia said. "I hadn't seen him back there in a long time."

Posada was all serious. When Girardi realized it, he tried to sell Posada on the notion it would be easy to go back behind the plate. Though eager, Posada wasn't totally buying it.

"I told him it was like riding a bike," Girardi said. "Go out there and ride the bike. He wasn't so sure. I'm not so sure he believed me when he went back out there."

Posada said he sort of gave Girardi a look. His buddy, Jeter, was pretty emotionless about seeing "Sado" -- as he calls him -- behind the plate, but did offer one nugget.

"It was just like old times, I guess," Jeter said.

Except, the Yankees lost the game. Angels Stadium is too close to Hollywood for an ending like that.

Posada might not get another chance. Girardi is "probably" going to catch Montero on Sunday. Austin Romine will join the team and eventually Martin (likely sooner) and Cervelli (likely later) will be back. For now, the 40-year-old knows what Sunday will bring.

"I'll be sore," said Posada, the catcher.

And even in a loss, it still sort of sounds right.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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