As fun as it was to watch Masahiro Tanaka throw 7.0 solid innings giving up just 3 runs (2 ER) and, as fun as it was to watch the rearranged lineup rap out 8 hits and go 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position (RISP), snapping an early 4 game losing streak, Yankee fans can still maintain some healthy skepticism about their favorite team. While it is great that that Yankees won the final game of the series against the Seattle Mariners, it is not enough to allay their concerns over the offense.
The Yankees struggles with RISP over their past 5 games (of which they lost 4) have been well documented. The team put together a 3-for-6 RISP performance in Sunday afternoon’s 4-3 win against Seattle but, in the four losses before then, they were just 7-for-32 (.218 BA). That includes a 1-for-11 performance on Friday night, a game they needed to win with Felix Hernandez on the horizon, and then a 2-for-12 showing against a less effective than usual Hernandez.
Those aren’t the kind of stats that win ballgames. When a team has 2 runners in scoring position, nobody out, it’s time for the age-old baseball adage, “Get ‘em on, get ‘em over and get ‘em in" to fully kick in. If the opposing pitcher gets out of that jam once, you might grudgingly tip your cap but, if it happens more than once you need to look at the hitters.
This was the fear coming out of Spring Training, that the Yankees offense, chock full of older players and predominantly lefty hitters, would be prone to the same slumps they went through in the second half of last season. Those ups and downs eventually doomed them to a Wild Card entry and a one and done appearance in the playoffs.
During the first two series of the season against Houston and Detroit, the Yankees offense looked decent and, in some cases, downright potent. Soon after, however, the Yankees began to struggle. Everyone from Joe Girardi to Mark Teixeira to Jacoby Ellsbury has said they are not worried. It’s early, the schedule is still somewhat erratic with off days and poor weather and the lineup still settling into their stride.
We have no choice but to take them at their word and, to be fair, eleven games into the season is too soon to make any judgments. With two hot games, the Yankees could be back on top of the offensive leader boards but, given the Yankees past experiences, it’s fair to start the questioning a little early.
After an off-day today the Yankees continue their home stand against the 6-7 Oakland A’s, facing two lefties in the 3 game series. It will be a good test for the Yankees to see if they can get the key hits they need.
The Yankees might not be worried but the same cannot be said about their fans. We’ll be watching closely.