His explanation complete, Tyler Clippard removed his cleats and slammed them to the floor. He stared into his cubicle. Enough said.
“I’m just half-executing,’’ he had just said. “I throw a pitch where I want one time, the next one, nowhere close.’’
In two weeks’ time, Clippard’s ERA has gone from 1.73 to 4.85. He was given the chance to work out his problems without the pressure of protecting a lead Saturday but gave up four runs in the ninth inning of the Yankees’ 8-1 loss to the Rangers. One run scored on a wild pitch, and with two outs, in a span of four pitches, Shin-Soo Choo doubled home two runs and Elvis Andrus doubled in another.
“My changeup has not been there the last couple of weeks,’’ Clippard said. “It’s a pitch I rely on a lot. And because of that, my fastball command needs to be sharper if my changeup isn’t there. Everything gets more magnified when those two things are happening. We’ll right the ship, but it’s not fun.’’
Derisive cheers were showered on Clippard after he got the final out in the ninth. “They were right to boo me. I’m pitching terrible right now,’’ he said. “This is a city that demands excellence. I realize that. It is what it is. I’ve never been a guy who really heard much on the mound. I’m very in the moment. Very like, kind of blinders on. It’s just a matter of getting it done, and all the other stuff is just that — stuff.’’
Joe Girardi isn’t giving up on Clippard. “We gotta figure it out,’’ he said. “He’s been so important for us for four months — that last two months last year, the first two months and even half of this one — he’s really in a funk and we got to get him out of it. And we’ll continue to work on it.’’
“Everything felt pretty good for a while this season,’’ Clippard said. “It’s kind of untraveled on me.’’ And at a most inopportune time, with Adam Warren sidelined with an injury.
“I just got to pinpoint why,’’ Clippard said of his struggles. “It’s not easy. It’s a process. Right now, I’m struggling a little bit. Just got to stay the course . . . I could sit here and talk about stuff all day long, it doesn’t matter. I’ve got to get the job done.
“I know I’ve been through some trouble in my career . . . I’ve had some bad times and I’ve had a lot of good times. It can’t get any worse. Hopefully, there’s some good times to come.’’