Yankees Need More Hits, Fewer Excuses From Teixeira, Cano
As for Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira, what's their excuse?
Actually, Teixeira was glad to offer up an excuse.
"Unfortunately, during these playoffs, it's been tough to get into a rhythm," Teixeira (hitting .172 in the postseason) said Tuesday before the Yankees worked out. "When you're in a rhythm during the season, you're going to fail seven out of 10 times. When you're not in a rhythm, you're going to fail a lot more than that. And unfortunately for me, that's kind of been the case right now."
Oh, so it's all those off days in the postseason schedule. Even though the Yankees played five of the past six days.
Funny, Derek Jeter, Jayson Werth and Chase Utley don't seem bothered.
"I'm not going to make any excuses, because everyone's got to deal with it," Teixeira went on, before returning to his excuse. "But it hasn't been easy. It definitely hasn't been easy.
"You have more time so you watch more tape, you take more batting practice. Maybe that works against you, I don't know. Maybe during the season when you're a little tired, when you just kind of just go out there and play the game because you've played 20 games in a row, your natural ability just takes over."
So, of course, Teixeira was the first one in the indoor batting cage Tuesday and, according to hitting coach Kevin Long, took even more swings than he has lately.
And then, there's that darn postseason schedule again.
"I don't make excuses, I'm not going to make excuses, because everyone has to deal with it," Teixeira said. "But being a switch-hitter, being a guy that kind of lives off hot streaks, lives off rhythm, it doesn't help.
"Over a 162-game schedule, the approach that I've had my entire career has always worked. When you play a game here, a day off, two games, day off, four days off -- sometimes that approach doesn't work."
Despite being 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position this postseason, Teixeira does have seven RBI, since four of his 10 hits have been for extra bases.
"I hope he comes up in a big situation," Long said. "The hits that he's got have been big ones.
"He's not down. He's not not himself. He's just got to keep plugging away. There's really no secret remedy."
The Yankees offense, by their standards, has been OK through five games, averaging five runs a game. And they lead the series 3-2. But there's no doubt the Yankees could use more production from Teixeira and Cano.
" 'Tex,' he's struggled a little bit," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's had some big hits, had a big hit [in Game 5, an eighth-inning double] that kind of got us going, got us back in the game. I felt good about him, and I felt Robby swung the bat pretty well last night, and I feel good about him."
Those two ranked first and fourth, respectively, in the AL in total bases for the regular season. But Cano is 3-for-18 with no walks and one RBI in the World Series while Teixeira is batting .105, with seven strikeouts on 19 at-bats.
"Maybe I'm expanding the [strike] zone a little bit -- I don't know," he said. "Maybe I'm trying to do too much."
Cano has definitely been chasing, and he admitted it.
"I feel I was a little off," he said. "I was trying to hit everything way out front, not waiting. I feel much better right now."
Cano did hit the ball hard a couple of times in Game 5, including a single to center.
"Last game was very good," Long said. "The two games prior to that, he got a little out of whack -- as everybody does."
After the rest of the team finished batting practice Tuesday, the always inventive Long set up a special drill for Cano, Nick Swisher and Freddy Guzman.
For 23 minutes, as Long flipped balls underhand from about 20 feet away, the hitters took their swings while a large screen was placed across home plate (running toward the mound), leaving about two-thirds of the plate for the swing.
That forced the hitters to keep their hands in toward their body through their swings so the bat wouldn't hit the screen.
"Something we've been doing with Robby all year when he kind of gets a little funky," Long said.
If Cano and Teixeira don't break out, perhaps Matsui will add a boost.
Despite being limited to one pinch-hit plate appearance in each of the three games in Philadelphia (going 2-for-3 with a solo homer), Matsui leads the team with 11 total bases for the Series. He is slugging 1.222 and the rest of the club has a .348 slugging percentage (the team had a .478 mark in the regular season).
"Getting Matsui back is always important to our lineup," Girardi said. "He's been a huge hitter in our lineup during the course of the year, a great RBI guy, big hits, home runs. So that's a very good thing."
Something else the Yankees could bring back: a killer instinct.
Twice this postseason, in Games 5 of the ALCS and World Series, they have had a chance to clinch and lost. And since the 2004 ALCS, the Yankees are 2-7 when they need a win to wrap up a series.
Contrast that to the 1996-2000 dynasty Yankees, who were 12-4 when needing one win to clinch. Of the 13 postseason series they played in those years, the Yankees closed out 10 as soon as they got within a win of clinching.
They have lost their last three possible World Series clinchers, inclduing Games 6-7 in 2001, after having won five straight such games.
"I think there is a killer instinct," Girardi said. "We were down 8-2 [in Game 5] and we were right back in the game. To me if you don't have a killer instinct you go home and lose the game 8-2. You don't take your at-bats seriously, you don't take the pitches seriously. So I think there is a killer instinct in that clubhouse.
"We lost a game. That's going to happen. We're playing a very good team."