After a Jose Bautista home run in yesterday's game against the Blue Jays, a fan, as is customary, reared back and threw the ball back onto the field. Unfortunately, the ball hit Brett Gardner and, although he stayed in the game, he acknowledged that he sustained a bump to the back of his head.
Just to be clear, I have no issue with fans engaging in the practice of throwing back opposition home run balls. If you caught it, do what you want with it. That being said, is your aim so bad that, with a field as large as the one at Yankee Stadium, you couldn’t avoid hitting one of the 17 people on the field?
That’s pretty bad.
The lump on Gardner's head was a microcosm of the series of lumps the Yankees received in their disastrous weekend divisional match-up against the Blue Jays. It seems like the Yankees, at times, went out of their way to lose. Between Girardi’s questionable pitching changes, less than crisp defensive play and their offense--which looked so prolific earlier last week--suddenly getting shutout in back to back games, the first time that happened to the team since 1999, the team didn’t do themselves any favors.
It was an ugly weekend to be sure. As Newsday Sports columnist David Lennon pointed out, in the last 12 days the Yankees have lost 5.5 games in the standings. That’s the bad news.
Now for some good news: Despite the disastrous weekend, the Yankees are still in first place! When the Yankees had a 7 game lead and were streaking towards 15 games above .500 it seemed like, not only was the post-season a foregone conclusion, but that the Bronx Bombers would cruise to a division title.
As pleasant as it was to ponder a stress-free summer and early fall, it was never that likely. The Yankees still had too many inconsistencies in their pitching staff and their A.L. East opponents were playing too far below their potential for it to continue through the rest of the season.
Either the Yankees were going to fall back to the pack or the pack, namely the Orioles or the Blue Jays, would catch up to them. As it turns out it is a little bit of both.
Every team slumps and, yes, it was extraordinarily bad timing by the Yankees offense amid some weird managerial decisions. The team wasted two stellar pitching performances (even Ivan Nova’s was great except for one pitch) and that can’t happen, especially against a team like the Blue Jays. Still, the Yankees control their own destiny and, with three games against the Blue Jays next weekend, they have the chance to avenge their pride a little bit.
The key here is to not let this malaise linger. Use Monday’s off-day to rest and get back to winning each series. If they achieve a .667 winning percentage from here on out they will be in good shape come October.
As for the series against the Blue Jays the Yankees need to handle it like Gardner handled getting plunked. Don’t even look back. Just wear it and move on.