At the rate they are going, the Yankees will be lucky to leave Tampa Bay with their one miraculous win from Monday night.
After dropping a 6-3 game that was more than winnable up until the 8th inning, the Yankees now have to face Chris Archer who will surely be looking for revenge after taking his first loss to the Yankees in their last meeting. Odds are good he won’t turn in a repeat poor performance.
The Yankees are missing key opportunities down the stretch and watching their Wild Card lead slip away while making zero progress on cutting into the division lead held by the Toronto Blue Jays. As Joe Girardi is fond of saying, it’s not what you want.
Last night's game was always going to be a toss up. As the Yankees transition Adam Warren back to the rotation (he gave the team 4 IP, 65 pitches and only 2 ER), they’ll have to rely on the bullpen to back him up. A bullpen that already has the 2nd highest innings total in the American League.
That bullpen, in turn, will need to rely on the offense to back them up and cover up their mistakes. Mistakes like Nick Rumbelow serving up a 2-run HR to Nick Franklin, a player that makes Stephen Drew’s average look like a lofty over-achievement.
As they did in Monday’s game, the Yankees offense looked over matched all game. They managed just five hits, including a bunt single by Brian McCann to beat the shift (which I loved just as much as Al Leiter, who clapped for the Yankees catcher during the YES Broadcast) and a pinch hit single for Dustin Ackley.
Five hits, for a HR hitting team, can still win games but, more often than not, it won’t and it’s not a strategy the Yankees should rely on to get them into the playoffs. Certainly the absence of Mark Teixeira hurts, but this team needs some of their key hitters to wake up. Jacoby Ellsbury (batting just .032 over the last week and .232 over the past month), Chase Headley (.179 and .243 over the same time frame) and Stephen Drew (.182 and .234) are hurting this team right now.
It’s not time to panic but it would be painful to watch the Yankees miss the playoffs for a third year in a row. It may be time for Joe Girardi to get creative with his lineup. Pride aside, Ellsbury is not a table setter right now. Let Gardner take over the lead off spot and, while Girardi’s at it, move Headley up between Beltran and Bird to see if he can get some better pitches to hit. It also wouldn’t hurt to get some fresh blood like Rob Refsnyder in the lineup.
Last night's loss was almost as disappointing as Monday’s loss was exhilarating. The Yankees need to win the series tonight, even if it means putting egos aside.