Girardi confident in Damon, Giambi

Girardi confident in Damon, Giambi

TORONTO -- Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi may have had two of the roughest nights in the building on Tuesday, but their struggles had started before the Yankees opened their visit to Rogers Centre.

On Tuesday, Damon misplayed two fly balls in center field, including one off the bat of Marco Scutaro in the eighth inning that decided the Yankees' 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays. Batting out of the fifth spot, Giambi struck out four times, reluctantly accepting a golden sombrero for only the fourth time in his career.

With every game taking on ultimate importance as the Yankees fight their fading playoff hopes, neither Damon nor Giambi has been able to muster much offensively.

Damon entered Wednesday with one hit in his last 21 at-bats, dropping his batting average, from .322 to .311, and he singled to lead off the game. Giambi is 1-for-15, even though he recently began regrowing the iconic mustache that coincided with a first-half power surge and gave him grounds for All-Star candidacy.

"I don't see anything drastically different," manager Joe Girardi said. "Sometimes you might go after a pitch that's not your pitch, but I don't see anything where I'd say they have to make a huge mechanical adjustment."

Girardi expressed confidence that both Damon and Giambi will begin to produce more regularly. He may have little choice. Damon is likely to continue as New York's everyday center fielder now that Hideki Matsui has returned to duty as the designated hitter. Giambi was in the lineup on Wednesday even as the Yankees prepared to tackle rookie left-hander David Purcey.

"Guys are going to go through their little ups and downs," Girardi said. "Sometimes you're just a fraction off. That fraction off is a lot when you're hitting and trying to get base hits. Everyone here is going to go through it. If you didn't, you'd hit .500."

With Richie Sexson having been designated for assignment last week as part of a roster shakeup, the Yankees' plans of platooning Giambi against only right-handed pitching appear to have been reduced. Giambi is hitting .237 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in 93 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, compared with .253 with 18 home runs and 51 RBIs against righties.

"Our lefties can hit lefties," Girardi said. "Before, we didn't have some of our guys here and we were in a platoon situation, but we're not doing that now."

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