It clearly was sarcasm, but also perhaps an indication of Joe Girardi’s frustration level. “You want me to hit Torreyes fourth?” he said, his voice tinged with equal parts irritation and exasperation.
Girardi had just watched the Yankees lose to the Rangers, 3-2, on Wednesday night, the 15th time in their first 20 games that they scored three or fewer runs.
An underwhelming rotation that too often has taxed the bullpen is a significant reason the Yankees enter Friday night’s game at Fenway Park with an 8-12 record, last in the AL East. But an offense that has shown few signs of a breakout is just as guilty, if not more. The Yankees have 14 hits in their last 109 at-bats (.128) with runners in scoring position, one of many unsightly numbers for the group.
So when a reporter quizzed Girardi about the possibility of shifting his lineup around, the Ronald Torreyes line was part of the answer. (Girardi, it should be pointed out, wasn’t mocking Torreyes, a reserve infielder who is 8-for-20 in nine games.)
“What do you want me to do?” Girardi said. “Twenty games is one-eighth of the season. If every manager changed the lineup after three or four guys were struggling, you’d be changing the lineup all the time. That’s why it’s a long season and you go by numbers over a long period of time. I think it’s way too early for that.”
Interestingly, Girardi has changed the lineup many times, though that’s had more to do with the number of lefthanded starters the Yankees have faced and trying to rest veterans strategically rather than an attempt to shake things up. He has used 17 lineups, according to baseballreference.com.
The issue, of course, has little to do with the order of the hitters. In the history of baseball, it is safe to say a hot-hitting team never has been held back because of the batting order, nor has a club going poorly suddenly hit because the No. 3 hitter, for example, was dropped to No. 8.
Too many Yankees are off to slow starts, especially middle- of-the-order hitters Alex Rod riguez and Mark Teixeira, who have shown recent signs of getting on track. But singling them out would be unfair. Just about everyone has slumped, from Jacoby Ellsbury at the top to Chase Headley near the bottom. Only Starlin Castro, Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran have been somewhat productive.
“It’s been a struggle for the last 15 games hitting the ball, but as I said, I think our at-bats were good [Wednesday night],” Girardi said. “If you put on good at-bats, eventually that’s going to change.”
Many Yankees pointed out that there are 142 games remaining. Many teams start strong and fade, and the reverse is true, too.
“I think we feel like it’s going to turn at any moment,” said CC Sabathia, who took the loss Wednesday night after allowing three runs in six innings. “Our lineup’s so good that it will turn around. It’s tough for all of us. We have some accomplished hitters in here, some great ones. We’ll turn it around.”
The Yankees also had a familiar refrain by a slumping team: bad luck.
“Chase Headley hit two rockets and had nothing to show for it,” said Rodriguez, who went 3-for-3, including a home run and a double, on Wednesday night in his first game after missing two with a sore left oblique. “Sometimes you need a little bit of a break, but I like the way we’re working, I like our attitude. We’re playing hard and things will turn around.”