Against shift or not, Yanks aim to hit it hard

Against shift or not, Yanks aim to hit it hard

Against shift or not, Yanks aim to hit it hard
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wee Willie Keeler's famous advice to hitters was once to "hit 'em where they ain't," but with the Rays using chart data to shift effectively through two games, the Yankees haven't been able to do great job of acknowledging that historic quote.

Mark Teixeira's line drive into shallow right field turned into a double play on Saturday, ending the eighth inning of New York's 8-6 loss to Tampa Bay. It also created a resounding image of frustration, as Teixeira ripped his batting helmet off at first base in disbelief.

"You're going to hit it at people," Teixeira said. "We did score a lot of runs [12] the last two days, but we did hit a few balls into the shift. Sometimes it goes through, sometimes it doesn't."

Rays manager Joe Maddon subscribes more ardently to hit-chart data than most, and while shifts against Teixeira are nothing new, Tampa Bay has also been employing different alignments against players like Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher.

Rodriguez said after Saturday's game that his focus is on "getting a good pitch to hit and smoking it," and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Sunday that there is little his club can do but keep hoping to find the green turf not covered by fielders.

"It's really hard to change who you are and revamp your approach because of the way a team plays you," Girardi said. "You try to take what they give you, you try to hit the ball hard and you take your chances.

"Sometimes, part of the reason they do it is they want you to get away from what you've been doing so well for a long time. I just tell our guys to keep hitting the ball hard, and it'll work."

With the success that Maddon has enjoyed this week in frustrating the Yankees, it is possible that other clubs could take notice -- certainly, the Yankees expect that Orioles manager Buck Showalter will be shifting more in the coming week.

The Yankees do their fair share of reading the charts as well. As Girardi said, "some of the teams we face may not have hitters that are as established as our guys, but you look, and our infielders are moving a lot."

Teixeira said that because of the caliber of New York's offense, defensive shifts alone won't be able to keep the Yankees quiet.

"If we'd never scored a run, you'd go, 'Wow, this guy's the most amazing manager I've ever seen,'" Teixeira said. "But we've scored a lot of runs the last two days. In baseball, there are days when they fall in and there are days when you're playing in the exact right position."