Gotta hand it to Joe Girardi. He feels confident enough in his beliefs that he gave one of his hottest hitters a rest at a time when the Yankees are still looking to find themselves offensively and in the standings.
So Jacoby Ellsbury, after a three-hit night on Monday, took a seat against lefthander David Huff Tuesday night. At least until Girardi used him as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning of a 6-3 victory over the Angels at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees keep saying they’re going to hit. Tuesday night they did from the first inning, when they scored three against their former teammate Huff.
Carlos Beltran, whose three-run homer in the eighth inning on Monday was the difference in a 5-2 victory, socked a two-run homer for the Yankees’ first runs. Austin Romine had an RBI single, Rob Refsnyder had a sacrifice fly and Starlin Castro hit his second opposite-field home run in as many nights to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead after three innings.
Alex Rodriguez added an RBI hit in the seventh and clapped his hands high over his head after he reached first base. Even A-Rod is showing signs of life with eight hits in his last five games.
Ellsbury and Beltran have been the constants in the Yankees’ lineup. Since May 1, Ellsbury is batting .330 in 100 at-bats with five doubles, four triples and a home run. Over Beltran’s last 18 games, he’s hitting .328 with seven HRs and 19 RBIs.
The Yankees are still two games under .500 after Tuesday night, but Girardi stuck to his guns about resting Ellsbury in an attempt to keep him upright for the whole season. (Of course, it’s easier to do that when you have seemingly unlimited job security. Thank you, Hal Steinbrenner.)
“He’s started the last 12,” Girardi said. “He’s played every day in this streak, played a lot the last streak. I thought I’d give him a day. I didn’t feel like running him out there 17 days in a row, and if I’m going to give him a day, it’s going to be against the lefthander.”
The problem when the lineup was revealed a little after 3 p.m. is you half expected an announcement that Ellsbury was sidelined with an injury. That’s how his Yankees tenure has gone so far.
Aaron Hicks, who started in center, went 2-for-3. He contributed a leadoff double in the second and scored on Refsnyder’s sacrifice fly to give Michael Pineda a 4-0 lead.
It grew by a run in the third when Castro hit his ninth homer of the season. It was Castro who followed Brian McCann’s seventh-inning blast on Monday with one of his own after the Yankees had been shut out for 6 2⁄3 innings by Matt (Don’t Call Me Willie) Shoemaker.
So in a five-inning span between Monday and Tuesday night, the Yankees hit five home runs and scored 10 runs. It almost seems as if that was their total output for the month of May.
“Being able to get those runs early in the game is a great boost for our team,” Beltran said. “I know we’ve been struggling in scoring runs lately, but the past couple of days we feel like we’re (having) good at-bats. That’s what it’s all about.”
Before the game, a fan behind the Yankees dugout wearing a Refsnyder t-shirt asked the rookie for his bat after batting practice. It’s the kind of request that goes unanswered thousands of times during the season.
This time, though, Refsnyder handed the bat to a security guard, who passed it along to the delirious fan. Selfies with the precious lumber ensued.
A few days ago, no one would have wanted a Yankees player’s bat. Now, they might finally be worth something.