The past few days have been rough for the Yankees. Last night's loss to the Mets was their fourth in row.
It was a disastrous game for David Phelps. He recorded only one out and gave up 4 ER. A bright spot was Ivan Nova, pitching 5.0 innings in relief and giving up only one run, making it clear that he plans to fight for his rotation spot.
For the Yankees overall, a four game losing streak opens the door to some tough questions. Every team goes through slumps and the Yankees are no exception even if, through the first 50 games, they have defied all expectations. They have played well with overall quality pitching (2nd in the AL in ERA) and timely hitting by replacements such as Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner.
However, with this losing streak hanging over their heads, is the other shoe dropping? With Wells now slumping, Robinson Cano not playing up to his typical stellar self, injuries sidelining the powerful Curtis Granderson again and Rivera having one of the worst innings of his career, could the Yankees be coming back to reality? Could they be not slumping but just reverting to their true nature, no longer able to play above their heads, a team no one really expected to compete, one that is replacement level at best?
It is obviously too soon to tell. Just as the Yankees didn't get too high when they were first in the A.L. East to start the week, it is not likely they'll panic even after losing four straight and falling a game out of first. Yankee fans can take a lesson from that.
With just over 30% of the season done, there's still plenty of baseball left to go and with the Red Sox up next for the weekend, the team controls their own destiny. It will be a fun summer of baseball and there's no reason to think the Yankees, replacement players and all, won't be right there in the thick of it. At least not yet.