Concern, panic or worry; whatever you call it, the New York Yankees still aren’t buying into it. After losing two out of three to the second-place Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees are saying all the right things, but they’ll have to actually produce more than one win for every two losses to prove they have the ability to remain atop the American League East.
For the second time in the three-game series Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds drove two home runs off Yankee pitching, this time Phil Hughes was doling them out. Reynolds was a big reason that the Orioles cut the Yankees lead in the American League East to two games with twenty-nine to play.
To make matters worse the Yankees are only 3.5 games up on their next opponent, the Tampa Bay Rays as they kick off a series this afternoon in a special Labor Day matinee.
Despite their recent poor play, the team has a general feeling that they’ll turn things around and get the job done. Nick Swisher has a positive outlook but doesn’t sugarcoat his teams’ recent downswing.
“We know we’ve got a lot of in-division opponents coming up,” said Nick Swisher. “Obviously, right now is not the way we would like to play. But it’s definitely not the way we’re used to playing. There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement. And we’re pretty much going out there half-staffed right now. As soon as we get our boys back — hopefully sooner than later — we’ll get right back on a roll.”
The Yanks do expect to call up Alex Rodriguez after he played in two games with Class-A Tampa, going 0-for-7. There is no telling how quickly he will respond, but the Yankees hope his presence in the lineup will jump start a very sluggish offense.
Hughes had been moved up specifically to fill the spot on Sunday due to the success he has had at the Stadium this season, but yesterday was not his finest effort. In five innings he allowed five runs on eight hits, including the two homers, which now total 32 on the season. He walked one and struck out six dropping his record to 13-12.
Hughes was staked to a 2-0 lead on a two-run home run off the bat of Chris Dickerson who was called up Saturday as rosters expanded. He was playing center field in place of Curtis Granderson who was resting due to tendinitis in his right hamstring. Hughes allowed Reynolds’ first homer, a solo shot, in the fifth but the Yankees responded with a run on Swisher’s RBI-single.
The Bombers would not score again with their best chance was in the seventh while they were down by just two runs. With runners on first and second with one out, Derek Jeter bounced into an inning-ending double play.
The Orioles would open things up with four runs in the sixth and three more in the eighth. Reynolds’ three-run blast in the sixth drove Hughes from the game, after Matt Wieters had already driven in a run on a single. The Yanks used five pitchers in a ridiculously long and ineffective inning by the bullpen. Joba Chamberlain and Derek Lowe were once again in the middle of the mess and one has to wonder how many more times Yankees manager Joe Girardi will run them out to the mound.
The Yankees (76-57) begin a 10-game road trip with three in Tampa, where they are 1-5 this season, four in Baltimore and three more in Boston. It is a stretch that could very well determine where they finish in the American League standings. The Yankees will need a big effort from CC Sabathia (13-4, 3.40) who takes on James Shields in the opener.
Check out the Yanks Go Yard Series Preview Show later this morning for full coverage of the series.