NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees are desperate to cling on to any hope. On Wednesday, it was Starlin Castro's first walk-off home run at any level. Like a swimmer hurriedly trying to grasp a life preserver against the tide, the Yankees want something to hold onto.
On Wednesday, it was Castro, who entered having hit .225 over his last 46 games. The Yankees so want to believe his game-winner gave them some life. They won, 9-8, over the equally ho-hum Colorado Rockies, who had beaten them three times over the past week.
"We need any kind of wins we can get," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The problem for the Yankees is that much of their roster is better suited for 2006 than 2016. That is why Girardi is managing any winnable game like a playoff game.
Girardi's move to avoid the rest of the mostly unreliable bullpen outside of the Big 3 proved a good one as Beltran, continually the Yankees' best player, cut the lead to 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh with a three-run homer. Didi Gregorius would tie it with an RBI single later in the inning.
"I thought this was a real important win," Girardi said. "We did not want to start this homestand off 0-2."
While it is not impossible to see the Yankees being contenders for the wild card and perhaps the division, it is hard to be optimistic about finally beating the mediocre Rockies. Still, Girardi is channeling Tug McGraw.
"You have to believe," Girardi said. "That's part of of my job and getting the belief in them."
Beltran, whom the Yankees would be wise to trade, thinks the Yankees' wild-card pedigree from a year ago is a reason to believe.
"Last year, we did it," Beltran said. "I think this year we have a better team with the acquisition of Starlin, [Aaron] Hicks and Chapman in the bullpen. We just need to be consistent. We have been playing so inconsistent. We haven't played our best baseball yet. It just hasn't happened yet. I don't know when it is going to happen, but I'm looking forward to that."
The Yankees couldn't escape bad news Wednesday as CC Sabathia twisted his ankle in his first poor start since April, allowing six runs in 4 1/3 innings. Sabathia, along with Alex Rodriguez and Beltran, are older players whom the Yankees are overly reliant on.
"This is not what you need," Girardi said of Sabathia possibly being hurt. "We don't need him to be hurt."
Sabathia thinks he will make his next start, which is important. He barely made the rotation in the spring and now is the Yankees' second-best starter after Masahiro Tanaka. Sabathia must continue to produce because every win, even those in June, feels like one in October for this club.
"I have seen what they are capable of doing," Girardi said when asked why anyone should believe in his 35-36 team. "I've watched them. I know what is inside of them. I know how they go about their work. They are capable of doing that. Now, with saying that, we have to go do that. That's the hard part."
They got one Wednesday. Castro picked up the requisite Gatorade bath afterward, as the Yankees could breathe a bit easier for one day.