NEW YORK - George Steinbrenner stayed silent about Joe Torre’s job status following the Yankees’ latest loss, a 7-4 wipeout Sunday against the Boston Red Sox that completed an awful April for New York. Not so, Derek Jeter, who delivered a stirring defense of his manager.
Steinbrenner is said to be angry with the Yankees’ 9-14 start, which left them last in the AL East. He considered firing Torre after last year’s first-round playoff loss to Detroit and could be thinking about making a change now, with New York heading on the road after losing eight of nine.
Surrounded by reporters, standing in front of his locker in the quiet clubhouse, the Yankees’ captain insisted criticism of the manager was unwarranted.
“It’s unfair,” Jeter said. “There’s no way he’s responsible for us performing. He’s not hitting for us. He’s not pitching for us. He puts the best players out there on the field, gives us an opportunity to win. We’re just not doing the job. That’s unfair, and it should stop. ... He’s doing a great job this year. We just haven’t done the job on the field. That’s the bottom line.”
A short while earlier, Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon had stepped on first base for the final out, arm raised high. Boston, which got home runs from David Ortiz, Alex Cora and Manny Ramirez, is 5-1 against New York this season. The Red Sox have a four-game division lead and are 6½ ahead of the Yankees, baseball’s $195 million bust.
Following a 10-15 start two years ago, Steinbrenner issued a statement saying: “It’s in Joe Torre’s and Brian Cashman’s hands.” On Sunday, he was mute, at least publicly.
“I just spoke to George, and he’s not going to have any comment today to anyone,” spokesman Howard Rubenstein said after the game.
He wouldn’t say whether Steinbrenner will speak Monday.
“I’m not going to go there,” Rubenstein said.
Torre, whose steady demeanor rarely changes, sat in his office following the loss and said he wasn’t concerned whether losing five of six to Boston would cost him the job he has held since November 1995.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Torre has not spoken with Steinbrenner since early last week, and neither has general manager Brian Cashman.
Because of injuries, New York hasn’t pitched Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina in the same turn through the rotation. Johnny Damon (4-for-32), Bobby Abreu (2-for-30), Hideki Matsui (3-for-17) and Robinson Cano (1-for-18) are slumping.
New York’s only runs came on a three-run homer in the third by Doug Mientkiewicz, who is hitting .154 and connected after failing to get a bunt down, and a solo shot in the eighth by Jeter that extended his hitting streak to 17 games. After hitting 14 homers in his first 18 games, Alex Rodriguez hit none in his final five of the month, leaving him tied with Albert Pujols for the April record.
Damon is going to see a doctor Monday about his bad back, and Wang (0-2) pitched Sunday with a broken nail on the middle finger of his throwing hand.
Cashman couldn’t say whether Torre’s job is in jeopardy but understood that any losing streak by the Yankees provokes speculation.
“That’s the nature of the beast. There’s no doubt. We’ve hit a rough spot and when you hit a rough spot, especially here, it’s rougher and louder,” he said. “I take full responsibility for this start, just because that’s my job. This is the team I put together. And so if people are looking for blame, I say blame me.”
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