- Last Updated: 3:47 PM, June 11, 2012
- Posted: 12:46 AM, June 11, 2012
This was one of those games that can tell you a lot about a team.
Joe Girardi has the Yankees in a good spot right now. After yesterday’s walk-off 5-4 win at Yankee Stadium and sweep of the Mets, the Yankees own the second-best record in the American League, half a game behind the Rays.
Andy Pettitte’s left hand was heavily bandaged as a result of making the wrong move and instinctively bare-handing Scott Hairston’s comebacker in the sixth, but he said he was feeling good about the Yankees as they head to Atlanta to play the Braves, having won six of their last seven games.
“I think any time you start winning games late, especially in your own ballpark, it’s always going to be a confidence-booster to know we are going to get these games,’’ Pettitte explained. “I think we feel real good about what we are doing. What a great game to win.
“We had already had won the series, we could have kind of just thrown this one in, [Jon] Niese was shutting us down. The will to win, for the guys to keep battling like they did, it was one we could have chalked up as a loss [and said,] ‘Hey, we won the series, let’s go on to Atlanta.’ ’’
Pettitte was quick to credit Girardi for the Yankees’ positive state of mind. In having to deal with an aging roster, Girardi has rested a lot of his regulars. Yesterday it was Derek Jeter’s turn to be the designated hitter as Jayson Nix was inserted at shortstop.
All Nix did was make the defensive play of the game, nailing Ike Davis at third on Omar Quintanilla’s chopper in the ninth. Girardi’s greatest strengths are using his entire roster and managing the bullpen, a pen that has been hit hard by injuries to Mariano Rivera and David Robertson.
“Joe is just a great man,’’ Pettitte said. “You love playing for him. That’s just all there is to it. He cares about us on the field and he cares about us off the field. It’s genuine, and how can you not love playing for someone like that?’’
Girardi will be extra cautious with Pettitte because of the bruised hand.
“It was hurting,’’ Pettitte said. “But I’m not going to have any problems at all. The swelling will get out of there quick and I will be good to go.’’
Russell Martin was the star with his two home runs, including his third career walk-off. He had a strong game behind the plate and made this point about how Girardi has helped him become a better catcher and player:
“His timing is good, which is key. Joe’s got good insight. He understands the game really well, he knows the pitching staff really well. He doesn’t say that much, but when he does, it’s meaningful. He’s a real smart guy who has helped me a lot.’’
This was a brutal loss for the Mets.
“Everybody goes through a bad stretch and this is ours,’’ manager Terry Collins noted. “It didn’t matter what move we made, it didn’t work.’’
Girardi’s moves worked. He was quick to get Rafael Soriano out in the ninth after the Mets tied it, 4-4. With runners on first and third, Girardi went to lefty Boone Logan, who struck out the lefty-hitting Josh Thole and got another lefty, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, to ground to second to end the inning and set the stage for Martin’s heroics.
After three in Atlanta, the Yankees head to Washington to play the Nationals. Then it’s three more at home against the Braves before winding up interleague play with three games against the Mets at Citi Field.
“We’re getting hot at the right time,’’ Nick Swisher added. “Early in the season, when things weren’t going well, people were like jumping off bridges and things like that. And it’s [Girardi’s] job to keep everything together, and he’s done a great job of that.’’
Despite everything, Girardi’s Yankees have the second-best record in the AL.Follow @NYPostsports