Joe Girardi says Yankees aren’t in panic mode down 0-2 to Astros
Yankees manager Joe Girardi took a soundbite out of the Sandy Alderson playbook Sunday, when he said his club isn't in "panic" mode against the Astros, despite the 0-2 deficit the Bombers will shoulder when the AL Championship Series resumes Monday at the Stadium.
"We've been through enough this year that there's no panic. There were times during the season where we were 15 games over, and we fell to four games over," said Girardi. "Obviously, would you rather be 1-1, 2-0 the other way? Yeah. I don't think there's any panic in the room. And they're gonna just go out and do what they do and see where the chips fall."
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Girardi and his players have reason to be optimistic at this juncture since the Bombers already erased a 0-2 hurdle in the previous playoff round, when they won three straight elimination games against the powerhouse Indians to advance. But while Girardi has gotten strong outings from his starters so far in the first two games of the ALCS, the Yankees' dormant lumber continues to be an issue — particularly the lack of production from rookie Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez. Both players are a combined 1-for-14 with eight whiffs in the first two games against Houston.
"Part of it is the guys they're going against have made a lot of good pitches. Part of it is you can get a little off sometimes. When I look at Aaron's at-bats, I don't think he hasn't continued to be patient," said Girardi. "I think Gary's chased a little bit more. Gary's a guy we know that can really turn it around quick and get locked in. Some of that is part of being young. You don't have 20 at-bats against a guy. I feel good about them. We've counted on 'em all year. We believe in them. I think they're going to come out of it."
CC Sabathia, who will face Charlie Morton Monday, also said he and his teammates weren't any different after Saturday's loss than they have been all regular season and the playoffs. He chalked up some of his younger teammates' ability to be resilient when facing adversity as either "maturity or just being dumb."
"The mood never changes with this team. Just playing baseball, going out one day at a time trying to win a baseball game. It's just how we've been. I look for us to come out (Monday) and play well," said Sabathia. "I felt like we've been right there in both (ALCS) games. Getting beat (2-1 both times), we're right there. Couple things go our way, we could easily be up 2-0 (in the series)."
Girardi was a member of the 1996 Yankees World Series championship team, a club that got into a 0-2 hole in the Fall Classic against the favored Braves, before winning four in a row to win the title.
"I think when you look at that team, there were a lot of young players that played important roles — mostly Mariano (Rivera) and Derek (Jeter). Our bullpen was really, really good back then," said Girardi. "The message then was, 'Go win one game, and let's see where we're at.' That's the same message (now)."
To that extent, Girardi said he would "stick with" the same lineup he's put on the field, and that for the designated hitter, the Yankee skipper will not look beyond the three players he's used in that spot — Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Holliday. For the entire 2017 postseason, the three are a combined 0-for-27 with 10 strikeouts.
"We have struck out during the course of the season, too. That's part of who we are right now," said Girardi. "We walk, we're patient, and we hit home runs and we strike out. We're going to strike out some. I like the patience. I like the grittiness of our hitters. I like how they grind out at-bats. We'll figure it out."
Unlike Houston's ability to win games playing small ball, Girardi agreed that the Yankees are primarily a power-hitting club. One that may rely too much on putting baseballs over the fence.
"I think we're capable of running. We have certain guys that can run on our team. We have guys that can go first to third. We just haven't got a lot of hits. Small ball really hasn't presented itself for us, because we haven't had a lot of baserunners," said Girardi. "But I look on the other side, (the Astros) haven't either. They just had maybe a couple more hits in key situations than we've had."
Yes, and Houston has capitalized on those situations and is now two victories away from advancing to its second World Series in franchise history (the first was 2005).