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Girardi optimistic, but time running out
08/16/2008 7:05 PM ET
NEW YORK -- In the early weeks of the 1996 season, Joe Girardi recalls heading home after a Yankees game and being greeted with a speech from his wife, Kim, offering encouragement and reasons to hold his head high.

Inspired, Girardi turned his season around as the veteran backstop of a club on its way to the World Series, and the diatribe would later be referred to as the Girardis' own personal version of the "Knute Rockne speech."

These days, Girardi still finds nuggets of helpful wisdom waiting at home, even though he has long since traded in his shin guards for a lineup card. More often than not, though, Girardi has a feeling that all of the parts the Yankees need to pull off an extended and -- with the calendar dwindling -- improbable run at the postseason are right in front of them.

"You know that none of us like to lose here," Girardi said. "When you hate to lose, yeah, it's frustrating. But I still believe in these guys, and I still believe that we can get this done. Whatever happened yesterday you have to put behind you.

"You can't think about yesterday. That's the great thing about our game, is that every day is a new day. You can put it together, and we can run off a bunch of wins together."

Easier said than done, Girardi would acknowledge. While the Yankees' coaches and general manager Brian Cashman have huddled to try to find solutions to some of the more pressing problems challenging the team, the decisive answers have yet to be found.

"It seems like every night out we're going to have to face guys that are quality pitchers," Derek Jeter said. "We still have to find ways to get it done and we've got to find ways to score runs and we've got to find ways to win these games."

With tweaks already made on this homestand -- swapping Melky Cabrera for Brett Gardner and Richie Sexson for Cody Ransom -- the Yankees know that their most important addition for the final 39 games of the year would be consistency.

"It has to start today," Girardi said. "We have to do everything right to win. We have to pitch, we have to play defense, we have to base-run. We have to hit with runners in scoring position and work the starter and try to knock them out early. There's no magic potion to it. We have to play good baseball."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Mike Mussina (15-7, 3.30 ERA)
Mussina was in line for his 16th victory until Mariano Rivera served up a three-run homer in the ninth inning to Delmon Young on Wednesday in Minneapolis. Mussina had no choice but to grin and bear the no-decision after the Yankees came back to win. The Yankees are 5-1 in Mussina's past six starts, and he is 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA over that span. He will be facing the Royals for the second time this season, having taken a no-decision on June 9 despite hurling eight innings of two-run, seven-hit ball in New York.

KC: RHP Brian Bannister (7-11, 5.36 ERA)
After not giving up a home run in three straight starts, Bannister surrendered three in a loss to the White Sox his last time out. He went seven innings, his longest outing since his last victory. That was way back on June 23 against Colorado, eight starts ago. In that period, Bannister is 0-5 with three no-decisions. But he was generally encouraged by his outing against the White Sox, getting seven strikeouts with just two walks and four hits, although three were those homers. Bannister has started twice against the Yankees this season, with a win and a no-decision.

Tidbits
Mussina has won 15 of his first 25 starts in a season for the first time since 2002 and for just the fourth time in his career; he also did it 1994 and '95. With a win, he would tie Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Eppa Rixey for 34th place on the all-time victory list (266). ... Mussina is 5-0 with a 2.74 ERA in seven starts against the American League Central this season. ... Jeter snapped a 31-game errorless streak with a miscue in the fourth inning on Saturday. ... The Yankees have committed four errors combined in their past three games after collecting only three errors in their previous 13 games. ... The Yankees have used 96 different lineups this year and have not used their Opening Day lineup in any other game. ... New York is 56-0 when leading after eight innings.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• YES

On radio
• WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Yankees (Darrell Rasner, 5-9, 5.18) at Blue Jays (A.J. Burnett, 15-9, 4.67), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 12-9, 4.30) at Blue Jays (David Purcey, 2-3, 5.93), 7:07 p.m. ET

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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