DENVER -- New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi often looks like he'd rather be anywhere but in a room full of reporters. On Wednesday in the Coors Field road office, Girardi appeared a little more tortured than usual when he was asked about how his last-place team began what has been presented as a sort of Waterloo of the 2016 season by losing two games against the middling Colorado Rockies.
Girardi's increased tension was the residue of a 6-3 defeat to the Rockies. His team lost 13-10 on Tuesday to begin an 11-game stretch in which the Yankees play home and away series with the Rockies and the terrible Twins. With about 15 reporters in his tiny office at Coors, Girardi wasn't in the mood to lament how the Yankees started their creampuff string with two losses to take sole possession of last in the AL East.
"We don't look at it that way," Girardi said. "Baseball teams are professional baseball teams. These guys score a lot of runs. I don't care who you are playing. If you don't play well, you are going to get your butts beat. We didn't pitch well here."
Ivan Nova allowed five runs on 10 hits in five innings.
"Everyone wants to talk about the schedule," Girardi said. "If you start thinking that you are just going to throw your gloves out there, that ain't going to happen. Not in this league."
The Yankees didn't have much of a chance with the lineup they put out. There is no DH in the National League ballpark, so Alex Rodriguez was stuck on the bench. Carlos Beltran missed a second straight game because of a knee issue. Mark Teixeira is still out.
"Everyone has talked about an important two weeks, and I've said this is important month because we can't keep having months where we aren't making up ground," Girardi said. "If you are losing ground, it is going to be tough to catch up. These are months that we have to play better than the teams that are in front of us."
The Yankees have lost four straight. They are 7-7 in June, which leaves Girardi to preach the same message day after day.
"'Win every series.' The message never changes," he said. "I don't care who you are playing. If you do that, you will not have to worry."
In terms of contending in 2016, the Yankees have much to worry about. They are fifth in a five-team division, and there is little to make you believe they are better than that. Are they really going to play seven games better than the Red Sox, Orioles or Blue Jays over the final 97 games? That seems highly unlikely. At 31-34, the Yankees are only four back in the wild-card race, but nearly half the league is in front of them.
The Yankees next go to Minnesota to face the American League's worst team. It is hard to imagine how Girardi's spirits will be if his team doesn't win at least three of four there. At Target Field, Girardi was pointing to the added plus of having the DH return to the lineup. That is a continuing problem for this franchise: being too reliant on a 40-year-old who has had two hip surgeries. The 39-year-old Beltran is also expected back.
It has been said before, but it bears repeating: Yankees fans might be wise to root against their team over the next nine of Waterloo and through June and July. It might be that the best thing for this franchise is to trade every asset and fight another year. Fooling themselves for the possible but not probable chance of gaining admittance to the one-game, wild-card crapshoot is not a great long-term plan.
The manager still has designs on October, even though the same thing seems to happen day after day, series after series, month after month. It could drive a man crazy.