Yankees Struggles Continue
Generally, when a playoff caliber team is trying to make a statement, it does so by beating other contenders and by crushing weaker teams.
The Yankees are making a good case to prove it’s not a contender.
Beginning September with the final two games of losing two out of three to the Orioles, New York then proceeded to lose two out of three to the Rays before splitting with the Orioles in a rematch. A 4-6 record against its two biggest competitors.
Now the Yankees are tasked with alternating between the fourth place Red Sox, the Rays in a must-win series at home, the last place Blue Jays at home and then the wildcard leading Athletics at home. This portion of the schedule started with blowing two different leads before losing on a walk-off to Jacoby Ellsbury, one of two meaningful hitters in the entire Red Sox lineup.
Hiroki Kuroda started the game and had a typical Kuroda start. The right hander was solid, pitching deep into the game, and keeping his team in it despite little run support. Jon Lester walked a career high seven batters and somehow only three base runners scored. The Yankees lead 1-0, then trailed 2-1 before leading 3-2 and ultimately losing, 4-3. Pedro Ciriaco, who cannot hit any other team in the majors it seems, delivered two more hits and scored the game winner.
It was encouraging to see Nick Swisher hit again. Derek Jeter continued his torrid pace with a huge two-run double. The Yankees were patient. Joba Chamberlain, recently improving and being placed in higher leverage situations, escaped a bases-loaded, one out jam in the seventh to keep the game tied. David Robertson‘s first inning of work he struck out the side.
Those were the good things to take away from the game.
The downside? The Yankees again lacked timely hitting, they let Dustin Pedroia and Ellsbury, arguably the only two successful, veteran hitters, both beat them all night (five combined hits), Robertson gave up a run in his second inning of work and the Yankees lost a game the same night Baltimore won, to a terrible team well under .500 and literally playing for nothing but pride. For the third time this week there is a tie at the top of the AL East.
Ivan Nova was activated yesterday. Andy Pettitte is about 10-14 days from being activated. After that, there are no more names “walking through that door”. After the A’s series, the Yankees have seven games against the Twins and Blue Jays before finishing the season with the Red Sox, in New York. That’s 10 games against teams well under .500 to finish the year.
The trick will be surviving to get that far. New York has to get through Tampa and Oakland and figure out a way to win the next two in Boston and at worst take a series from the Blue Jays. These should be formalities, but for a Yankees’ team that has not been on track since taking three out of four in Texas, it’s an all-out struggle.