Yanks hope to give Pettitte support

Yanks hope to give Pettitte support

KANSAS CITY -- The Yankees slipped and skidded around the muddy infield as much as the Royals did on Wednesday, with one major exception -- no New York player got as far as third base as the Yankees continued to fight their early-season offensive outages.

Kicking off a stretch that sees the Yankees play 18 of 20 scheduled games away from Yankee Stadium, hitting the road hasn't exactly been a tonic for the lack of hitting. The Yankees have scored just 25 runs in their first nine games, and only twice have they scored more than three runs in a single contest.

"We believe in this offense," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It just has not clicked through the first nine games, for whatever reason. We haven't really had a big outburst. We had one game where we scored six [on Monday], and that's basically been it. It's been two or three or zero."

The Yankees will try to reverse that trend on Thursday, looking to avoid a series sweep as they meet the Royals for one last game before departing Kansas City for the regular season. Left-hander Andy Pettitte will be trying for better results as well, looking to rebound from a loss on Saturday against the Rays at Yankee Stadium, when a lack of sharpness was evident.

Pettitte missed his final two starts of Grapefruit League duty due to back spasms, but perhaps seeing the Royal blue will help jolt some memories. Pettitte is undefeated in his last eight starts against the Royals since Sept. 4, 2000, having gone 6-0 with a 2.93 ERA over that stretch.

The Yankees, scraping as they are, can use it. Operating without cornerstones Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, the Yankees' lineup has had trouble picking up the slack and getting rolling. Robinson Cano, promoted to the No. 2 slot in Jeter's absence, went 1-for-4 on Wednesday and is hitting .194, while Jason Giambi took an 0-for-4 collar and is batting .056.

"We're close, but it's just putting hits together," Johnny Damon said. "So far this season, we haven't hit well with runners in scoring position. We're getting guys on base, and we're hitting into a lot of double plays. Our pitchers definitely don't deserve the fate that they're getting. We will start scoring runs. I think we were in worse shape last year."

"I don't think our approach is bad," Girardi said. "We're not getting a lot of results right now. As a club, we're not hitting great. We're not getting the two-out hits you need to win games. Some guys are swinging the bats better than others, but as a whole, we need to pick it up."

Girardi closed the Yankees' clubhouse for about 10 minutes on Wednesday to address some on-field issues, but he said that he does not expect to make wholesale lineup changes by shuffling his order to try to create offense. Even if he wanted to, this wouldn't necessarily be the time to do it.

"You keep putting them out there, and you know eventually they're going to hit," Girardi said. "That's what you've got to do. We've got a couple of players banged up, so you don't have a whole lot of options that you can turn to. I don't think it's going to continue much longer. I believe we're going to hit."

Pitching matchup
NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (0-1, 5.40 ERA)
Pettitte tired in the fifth inning of his season debut and allowed a three-run homer to Jonny Gomes. He said that he was rusty and was not able to throw a curveball for a strike the entire afternoon. He'll look for better results against the Royals, a team he defeated in his only time facing them last year. Pettitte has a career 6-2 record and 3.55 ERA in 11 games (nine starts) at Kauffman Stadium.

KC: LHP John Bale (0-1, 5.68 ERA)
Bale's first start in the Majors since 2003, on Friday night, got off to a slightly rocky beginning. The Twins didn't exactly light him up with their nine hits and four runs in the first four innings; a lot of damage was done with infield hits and tweeners and bunts. Bale recovered nicely and kept the Royals in the game, although they took the first of their two losses on the young season, 4-3. Early on, Bale elevated some pitches, which didn't help matters, but on the whole, manager Trey Hillman was pleased with the effort.

The Yankees finally had an error-free game on Wednesday after committing at least one miscue in each of their previous seven games. ... Alex Rodriguez is one double shy of 400 for his career. He also needs one RBI to tie Mickey Mantle (1,509) for 46th place on baseball's all-time list. ... Since the beginning of the season, Yankees relievers have recorded 38 strikeouts and five walks in 36 innings. ... The Yankees are 3-4 this year when scoring three runs or fewer.

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Up next
• Friday: Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 2-0, 1.38) at Red Sox (Clay Buchholz, 0-1, 5.40), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 1-1, 3.09) at Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 0-1, 9.64), 3:55 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (Phil Hughes, 0-1, 5.00) at Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2-0, 1.47), 8:05 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.