The New York Yankees seem to be in a free fall as their lead in the American League East is down to one game after losing to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 at Tropicana Field yesterday. The safety net is slowly coming together, that being the middle of the Yankees order, consisting of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, but the team may hit bottom before it’s fully constructed.
Rodriguez came back yesterday and singled in four at-bats, as part of the Yankees’ three-run fourth which erased a 2-0 Tampa lead. The Yankees striking with A-Rod involved brought a sense of a void being filled. Mind you, it was a looping liner, but nonetheless it was hit with a runner in scoring position so the Yanks couldn’t ask for more considering the anemic offensive production of late.
However, the three runs were all they could put across against Rays starter James Shields. CC Sabathia did not have great stuff, but managed to scatter eight hits and two walks minimizing the damage to three runs over seven innings. David Robertson was reached for three hits and a run in the bottom of the eighth as the Rays used their speed to create a run. It was actually twice that they tried to manufacture the run; the first time Russell Martin threw out pinch-runner Rich Thompson. Martin didn’t get a throw off when Ryan Roberts stole second after reaching on a two-out single. Chris Gimenez grounded weakly through the second base hole as Robinson Cano was playing up the middle. Cano stretched and couldn’t come up with the ball and tweaked his hip in the process. It is unclear if he will miss any time.
The Yankees had it set up for a similar result in their final at-bat against Rays closer Fernando Rodney. Rodriguez struck out to open the inning, completely overmatched by Rodney, but this is to be expected after missing 36 games. Eric Chavez reached on an error by third baseman Elliot Johnson. Eduardo Nunez entered as a pinch-runner and stole second base easily. The Yankees now had two cracks at tying the game. Raul Ibanez grounded out to first base moving Nunez to third. Not the best result, but any hit scores the run. Granderson, who had just one at-bat since Saturday’s game due to mild tendinitis in his right hamstring, struck out swinging to end the game.
The results were obviously not what the Yankees wanted, but they are on the mend physically. At 76-58, they still have the division lead and while the wheels on the car are wobbling the Yanks are the ones still driving. The injured players are slowly coming back, with Teixeira possible for the Orioles series which follows Tampa. Hopefully, once he does return and the lineup features the best players on the team, the positive mentality they portrayed in the clubhouse after the game will carry over to the field.
In tonight’s matchup the Yankees have Freddy Garcia (7-5, 4.90 ERA) taking on Alex Cobb (8-8, 4.39 ERA) as they hope there is enough net built to spring them back into full control of a once well-built machine.