That’s two back to back series losses for the New York Yankees. Neither one was particularly close. The Yankees lost 3 of 4 to the division rival Tampa Bay Rays last week and then dropped 2 of 3 to the Kansas City Royals by a combined score of 19-6. Sunday’s game, which they dropped 6-0, was the first time this season that the Yankees were shut out, a fate they narrowly avoided against the Rays and in the first game against the Royals.
The Yankees offense, which had been clicking on all cylinders since the first two weeks of the season, suddenly looks vulnerable. The tandem of Jacoby Ellsbury (0-for-9, 4 BB) and Brett Gardner (2-for-8, 0 BB) is not getting on base at the clip they were during the Yankees recent hot stretch, Mark Teixeira has just 1 HR on this road trip and Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew are still, well, terrible.
The Yankees only have one player in the top-10 of A.L. hitters, in the top-10 of .OBP (Ellsbury) and only three in the top 25 (add in Gardner and Teixeira). Once those top 3 hit their inevitable slumps, the Yankees offense was bound to follow. The hope was that they wouldn’t get there all at the same time but as Ellsbury and Beltran slowed down, nobody really picked them up. Beltran, who is batting .324 over his last 4 games, is doing much better but, with no one on base, he has just 3 RBIs on this road trip.
The Yankees weren’t going to run away from the A.L. East. The division is separated from top to bottom by just 5.0 games, but the way they lose games matters just as much as the way they win them. They are suddenly struggling with RISP, unable to simply put the ball in play with runners on third.
Given the Yankees recent pitching struggles (Michael Pineda, 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 1 SO; Chris Capuano, 3.0 IP, 4 ER), the offense will need to pick them up. Especially the bullpen which, until recently, has been doing yeoman’s work and is surely looking forward to Monday’s off-day.
Hopefully that is all that the offense needs as well: a breather after seventeen straight days of baseball. After a two game series against the Washington Nationals, a team that is suddenly playing up to its potential, the Yankees will be gifted one more off day before heading home. Some time before they get there, they need to get back on track before they completely do away with their slim 1.0 game division lead.
A Beautiful Salute
I'm not in the habit of tipping my cap to Yankees opponents, especially after they win a series against the Yankees, but kudos to the Royals for their Salute to the Negro Leagues and the beautiful Kansas City Monarchs uniforms and batting helmets they wore. It's an era of baseball that does not get much attention but very much deserves it and nobody does it better than Kansas City. The Yankees didn't wear the throwback New York Black Yankees uniforms but did join the Royals in wearing a patch saluting the late, great Ernie Banks. Nice touch.