Yes, Didi Gregorius is trying too hard. Yes, that run-scoring error wasn't pretty. But believe it or not, manager Joe Girardi said, he actually is getting better.
Gregorius committed his sixth error of the season with one out in the eighth inning, when Kendrys Morales hit a grounder to the shortstop's left. With Lorenzo Cain on second, Gregorius attempted a shuffle/flip to first baseman Mark Teixeira, but instead sent the ball sailing into foul ground, allowing Cain to score the Royals' second run. The play was scored a hit and an error.
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"I think so," Girardi said when asked if Gregorius is pressing. "I don't have a problem with him trying that play. I think that if he flips it right, he has a shot to get him out. That's not a throw you're going to make very often. It's probably an easier throw if you're an option quarterback."
Gregorius' play has inspired derisive "De-rek Je-ter" chants from around Yankee Stadium. Even so, Girardi thinks he's improving.
"It's a tough play," he said. "I think he's relaxed much more now than he was earlier in the season, I do. And I think he's played much better on defense and I think he'll continue to improve."
More Ks for Betances
Dellin Betances' streak of dominance continued on Wednesday, despite allowing an unearned run on Gregorius' error.
The reliever struck out three batters in the eighth inning and has recorded his last six outs via the strikeout. He has not allowed an earned run this season, a total of 26 innings in 23 appearances, and the infield single he gave up to to Morales snapped an 0-for-29 streak for batters facing the reliever.
"I try not to pay too much attention to stats, but I guess it's good when you do that," he said, noting he wasn't bothered by the infield single. "They're big-league hitters and you try to go out there and do your best . . . You just have to try to better yourself each and every day."
Betances has struck out 30 of his last 59 batters.