LISTEN: Girardi Says Late-Game Heroics Tend To Carry Over Into Other Games

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — These Yankees have a flair for the dramatic.

They proved that again last Friday when Brett Gardner hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning to beat the Cubs. The Bombers rode that momentum to a sweep of the defending world champions, including an 18-inning victory Sunday night — or should we say Monday morning?

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“We’ve definitely been entertaining, and we’ve seen some guys do some really good things,” manager Joe Girardi said during his weekly appearance on Mike Francesa’s WFAN show on Thursday. “And I think when you have a patient club that hits the ball out of the ballpark, you have a chance to win games like that and to score late, come back. And that’s what we’ve been able to do.

“I think it always carries over to the next day and the next day. And you know, there’s a lot of belief in that clubhouse.”

The Yankees (21-10) own baseball’s best record and open a four-game series Thursday night against the Astros, who at 23-11 have the second-best record.

HICKS HICKS HOORAY!

Girardi praised Aaron Hicks’ play this season. The outfielder is batting .338 with six home runs. Last year, he hit just .217 with eight homers.

“He’s been incredible, to see what he’s done,” Girardi said. “And just for him to put down a good bunt knowing that it’s a difficult play for the pitcher, and you get it thrown away in that 18-inning game, he ends up on second, his speed allows him to score on a ground ball to the shortstop when the infield’s in — I mean, he has played outstanding.”

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IMPROVED PINEDA

Hicks isn’t the only Yankee whose performance has been night and day compared to last year. Right-hander Michael Pineda, who is starting Thursday against Houston, is 3-1 with 3.12 ERA. Last season, he went 6-12 with a 4.82 ERA.

“I think he’s had more consistent movement on his fastball,” Girardi said. “Last year at times — a lot of times — it wasn’t cutting like it was the year before, and it seems like some of the cut has come back, and I think he’s been more consistent with it.”

SHAKY CC

CC Sabathia, meanwhile, has been struggling lately. In his last four starts, the 36-year-old left-hander is 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA.

“He just hasn’t had the consistent stuff, and the one pitch that he seems to be missing a lot is his cutter,” Girardi said. “And he seemed to find it about the fourth inning the other night in Cincinnati, and he got through those innings a lot easier than he did the first three, obviously. He just hasn’t had a couple of pitches. It seems like he’s had one pitch each start, and he’s trying to get through the lineups, and it’s really difficult when you’ve only got one pitch.”

BIRD UPDATE

First baseman Greg Bird has been out since being placed on the disabled list May 2 with a bruised right ankle.

“He is supposed to see our doctor tonight,” Girardi said Thursday. “I think it’s been the seventh or eighth day. They talked about seven to 10 days of no activity, and then you start to do some small stuff. But he is definitely progressing.”

There is still no timetable for his return, Girardi said. Bird is expected to go on a minor league rehab assignment before returning to the Yankees.

The Yankees have been using Chris Carter and Matt Holliday at first base in the meantime.

“I think I could use Holliday there,” Girardi said. “I think I have to be careful that it doesn’t affect him physically too much because his bat’s very important. Your hope is that Chris Carter gets going and starts hitting some home runs like he’s capable of doing.”

Carter, last year’s co-home run champ in the National League, is hitting just .193 with one homer.

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio player above.

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