NEW YORK -- So now it's Jerry Meals.
And maybe Tim Bogar.
|The Yankees aren't getting much from Phil Hughes and the rest of their rotation. (Getty Images)|
In the first Red Sox-Yankees game at the new Yankee Stadium, the story was less a 6-4 game that the Red Sox won than it was a Yankees team and manager that have reached the fourth week of the season with more issues than Alex Rodriguez.
Chief among them: Their starting rotation, the one that was supposed to be baseball's best after the twin signings of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett (for a combined $243.5 million), has just one more win than Zack Greinke.
It also boasts an ERA that began Monday at 5.52 (fifth-worst in baseball) -- and went up after Phil Hughes allowed four runs in four ugly innings.
Oh, that's right. It wasn't Hughes' fault. It was Meals, the home-plate umpire who Girardi argued with all night, at least until getting himself tossed from the game in the fifth inning.
"I thought [Hughes] threw the ball pretty decent," Girardi said later. "There were some things I didn't like -- and not from Phil Hughes."
Or maybe it was Bogar, the Red Sox first-base coach that Girardi yelled at in the fourth inning, apparently over accusations of sign-stealing.
Or maybe Girardi's problem is that each of the four days the Yankees have played the Red Sox this season, something has gone terribly wrong. Monday, besides the loss and the umpire problems and the first-base coach problems, the Yankees lost another key player as Jorge Posada had to leave the game with a troublesome right hamstring.
Posada will have an MRI on Tuesday, a few hours before Joba Chamberlain starts the final game of this round of Yankees-Red Sox games.
A Chamberlain loss to Josh Beckett would mean a second straight Red Sox sweep over the Yankees, but it would also mean another trip through the Yankees rotation without a single win from a starting pitcher. That has already happened twice this year, which is two more times than many people probably thought it would happen all year.
Here's another crazy stat: The Yankees rotation has seven wins. After 25 games a year ago, when all the talk was about how Hughes and Ian Kennedy never won, the Yankees rotation had nine wins.
They spent huge money over the winter fixing it, and 25 games in, they've gone from nine wins to seven.
The Red Sox have some rotation issues of their own. Daisuke Matsuzaka is on the disabled list, and Beckett carries a 7.22 ERA into Tuesday night's start. Boston's starters actually have a higher ERA (5.66) than the Yankee starters.
The difference is that the Red Sox have so much rotation depth that they should eventually get things straightened out. Hughes was the Yankees' rotation depth, and with one very good start and one pretty bad one, the results have to be considered inconclusive.
In any case, the Yankees can't think right now about moving Chamberlain back to the bullpen, even though their eighth-inning relief is such an issue that Girardi said Monday that he plans to "mix and match."
That was before Girardi started complaining about umpires and first-base coaches (and after he had declined a chance to complain for a second straight day about the publisher of Selena Roberts' A-Rod book).
It was also before Red Sox manager Terry Francona took the stage in the very same interview room.
Francona, whose team entered Monday just 1½ games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East, chose not to complain about anything. He expressed confidence in Beckett and slumping David Ortiz, had kind words for Julio Lugo and even played down the Red Sox's problems with stolen bases, saying, "I'm not as concerned about the running game as the rest of the world is."
Later, Francona watched Ortiz pull two doubles down the right-field line, an encouraging sign. He watched Jon Lester pitch an outstanding game, and watched Jonathan Papelbon survive bases loaded in the ninth. He didn't, it appeared, pick a fight with anyone.
In fact, given the chance to complain about books being a distraction, Francona said simply, "There's not going to be many books written if you don't win."
Right now, Girardi needs to worry less about books, and less about umpires, and less about first-base coaches, and more about making sure his team wins.
The Yankees still could win, of course. They've already been scoring tons of runs, and now A-Rod is coming back and Mark Teixeira (two home runs Monday night) might be ready to start hitting as expected.
Even without A-Rod, even without much from Teixeira, even without many wins from the rotation, even without a single win in four games against the Red Sox, the Yankees are still 13-12, still only 2½ games behind the Sox.
They could still win -- even with Jerry Meals behind the plate.