The race for third place in the AL East is a snippy one, with the Ray's honoring Derek Jeter before last night's game, then clipping him with a fastball in on the hands. Afterward Joe Girardi blasted the Rays for hitting so many Yankees batters recently, but with a twist: instead of accusing them of doing it intentionally, he accused them of being incompetent.
"If you are going to pitch inside, pitch the right way," Girardi said. "If you can't pitch inside, don't pitch inside. We are not pincushions.
"If you are going to pitch inside, learn how to pitch inside. You pitch down in the zone. You don't pitch up. This is not practice. This is guys' livelihood."
Five Yankees have been hit in their last five games against the Rays, including Chase Headley, who was hospitalized after being hit in the chin last week and narrowly missed getting hit again on Monday. Headley had strong words for pitcher Steven Geltz, who hit Jeter on an 0-2 count on a pitch that got away.
"You shouldn't be in the big leagues if you keep doing that consistently," Headley said. "I mean, guys are throwing too hard with too good a stuff. Granted, I know that balls get away every now and then. I get it. It can't keep happening. If a guy can't control the fastball, he can't pitch in there. He can't be in the game. He can't be in the big leagues because guys' careers are at stake. You can't have it happen."
The Yankees' point may have been undercut somewhat by Girardi's defense of David Phelps, who cleared both benches last night by coming close inside on Kevin Kiermaier. On Phelps, making just his second appearance since Aug. 3, Girardi said, "Phelpsie hasn't pitched once in a month, once in six weeks. His command is not going to be very good."
And then there's the fact that Yankees pitchers have hit more Rays batters this season than the other way around.
But both of these teams are bad and frustrated. Joe Maddon gets that the Yankees are upset. "It's called baseball," Maddon said of the plunkings. "It happens once in a while."