LADY AT THE BAT: Win Streak Ends As Detroit Shifts Yankees Offense To Neutral

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Win Streak Ends As Detroit Shifts Yankees Offense To Neutral

Here’s the off-season homework assignment for Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann: Learn how to bunt and like it. The shift has been hurting a lot of Yankees players all season, with Tuesday night’s loss against the Detroit Tigers just the latest example. These two, however, have been affected the most.

It’s not that they’re not trying. McCann tried to bunt in the bottom of the 8th inning but it was more awkward than watching Bartolo Colon in the batters box. He then grounded into a double play. Teixeira followed by actually hitting a ball the opposite way but it was a harmless pop up. Thus ended the Yankees best threat of the night.

The Yankees weren’t going to win all of their remaining 35 games, even if it seemed like it at times during their recent five game winning streak. It also wasn’t likely that the Yankees could repeat their performance earlier in the month by taking 3 of 4 from the Tigers best pitchers, so 2 of 3 seemed acceptable.

Not only had I resolved myself to them losing a game during this series, by the time last night's game finally started, I’d even talked myself into it being that game, for three reasons:

  1. The Yankees were originally supposed to have an off-day on Monday and should have come into Detroit well rested. Instead they had to detour to Kansas City and then quickly head to Detroit. 
  2. Brett Gardner was still out of the lineup. The Yankees second best defender and personal spark plug would be very much missed in a park with lots of foul ground and plenty of outfield space. 
  3. The game was delayed. I’m convinced that, as an older team, this works to the Yankees disadvantage.
So, settling in to watch the game, I was prepared for a loss and determined not to be disheartened about it.  That changed after watching Teixeira and McCann go a combined 1-for-8.  After that performance it was tough not to feel all those concerns about the Yankees offense--which were somewhat assuaged during the win streak--come flooding back.

Jacoby Ellsbury hit two homeruns in the game off Cy-Young contending Rick Porcello, while Teixeira and McCann could barely get the ball out of the infield. Nothing against Ellsbury, but there is something wrong with that picture, the same thing that’s been wrong with it all season. Now, however, the Yankees are running out of time to fix it.

It doesn’t matter how much it hurts their pride, or how much they think it detracts from their core strengths. Teixeira and McCann have two and four years remaining on their contracts respectively and, until they show they can beat the shift, teams aren’t going to stop deploying them. Time for a strategy change.

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