04/17/12 6:30 PM ET
Quality starts a goal as Yanks aim to save 'pen
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
"When you're in a real long stretch, 13 games in a row and 19 out of 20 days, the bullpen's getting more use than you want," manager Joe Girardi said. "We do need to get some quality starts so we don't have to go to insurance, because there are days when you have guys down and your bullpen's limited."
New York's bullpen entered Tuesday with a 2.36 ERA (nine earned runs in 34 1/3 innings of work), good for fifth-best in the Majors.
Team ace CC Sabathia -- who starts Tuesday -- has two no-decisions on the year, allowing a total of nine earned runs in 12 innings of work in games against the Rays and Orioles.
The Yankees' only two quality starts came on April 9 (Ivan Nova allowed two earned runs in seven innings for the victory against Baltimore) and April 13 (Hiroki Kuroda threw eight shutout innings).
The weather in New York is heating up, and Girardi hopes his starters' performances will follow suit.
"The weather can affect the pitcher the same way it affects a hitter, in a sense, when you have some cold days," he said. "Sometimes the arm strength, you never know when a pitcher's going to go through a little bit of a dead-arm phase. To me, command has probably been the biggest issue -- not to where we've walked a lot of people, but where we've got too much of the plate."
Cano's recent skid minor in Girardi's eyes
NEW YORK -- Manager Joe Girardi wasn't ready to make any proclamations after Robinson Cano's fast start, so the manager wants to refrain from passing any judgment as the Yankees second baseman has slowed down over the last few games.
Cano opened the season with at least one hit in four of his first five games, batting .304 through that stretch. But entering Tuesday's game against the Twins, he had just three hits in the last five games. He had a good day on Sunday against the Angels (2-for-3 with three runs).
Though Cano has just one RBI this season (Saturday, against the Angels), Girardi has been pleased with the second baseman's approach at the plate. Cano has six walks this year and an on-base percentage of .340.
"He's had some good at-bats for me," Girardi said. "He hasn't chased a lot of pitches out of the zone. He's taken some walks, so I've been pleased. That will turn around."
Cano was 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in the first game of the series against the Twins.
"I feel good," Cano said after Monday's 7-3 loss. "Just forget about this game and play the next game."
First baseman Mark Teixeira was a late scratch from the Yankees' lineup on Tuesday due to flu-like symptoms. Derek Jeter moved from shortstop to designated hitter, Nick Swisher moved from designated hitter to first base, Andruw Jones moved up in the order and Eduardo Nunez was inserted to play shortstop.
Russell Martin had a routine day off, his first of the season. The Yankees are in the midst of a stretch of 13 games in as many days, and manager Joe Girardi wants to rest players as often as he can.
"I'm gonna have to move it around here," Girardi said. "Swish could be one of the guys who could possibly go 13 days in a row, so I'm gonna give him a DH day here. Once we get by this series, we're gonna see some lefties, so you can look at some DH days for [Alex Rodriguez and Jeter] in there. Just trying to move some things around a little bit."
Girardi had this to say about the value of Raul Ibanez to the club: "It's just professionalism and knowing how to play the game. Playing the game the right way. Never getting overwhelmed in a certain at-bat with things on the line. Being able to go to right field or left field for us. He brings us a professional attitude, a guy who really knows how to hit, but he also brings us some flexibility, too, because he can play the outfield."
Tuesday marked the 61st anniversary of the first Major League game worked by legendary Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard at Yankee Stadium. It was also Mickey Mantle's first Major League game. Sheppard died on July 11, 2010, at age 99.