Is this the bottom or can it actually get worse? The New York Yankees wake up this morning with a share of the American League East lead after holding it by themselves for 84 straight days. The tailspin is well documented and has Yankee fans wondering if this is what the Fenway faithful felt like last season.
It’s easy to find the similarities on the field with the 2011 Boston Red Sox, but until we hear that the Yankees are playing video games, drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the middle of a game, the similarities stop there. Another difference is the timing. The Red Sox had their entire collapse transpire during the final month-plus of the season. The Yankees’ descent began quite a while ago and culminated with last night’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, while the Baltimore Orioles were knocking the Toronto Blue Jays around Rogers Centre.
The Yankees had no answer for Alex Cobb, who tossed seven innings of two-run ball; the only mistake was a Robinson Cano two-run homer. Beyond that the Yankees flailed at changeup after changeup and beat the ones they were able to hit straight into the ground. Cobb recorded 12 ground outs and five strikeouts against a Yankees team that has scored 13 runs over their last five games and has failed to get more than six hits in any of those games.
Over the same span the Yankees have not exactly received dominant pitching performances either, and last night was no exception. Freddy Garcia allowed all five Tampa runs on three homers. He had two strike counts on each at-bat that ended in a home run as he just couldn’t put batters away when he had the chance.
The Yankees insist that that while they are unhappy with the results, they are not giving up on the season and are working just as hard as they were when the wins were coming fast a furious. But the frustration may have set in on their manager Joe Girardi, who was ejected in between the fourth inning after he argued a call with home plate umpire Tony Randazzo. Girardi was as angry as ever, but there was no rallying behind the fire the manager displayed.
Tonight in the final game of the three-game set the Yankees have Hiroki Kuroda (12-10, 3.04 ERA) on the mound to face Tampa Bay rookie Matt Moore (10-8, 3.58 ERA). The Yankees plain and simple need to bust out of the hitting slump and get quality pitching in order to entertain a thought of winning the AL East. The goal now is to win one more game than the Orioles and the Rays over the next 27 days. Yankees captain Derek Jeter sums it up.
“We still have games left — we have to find ways to win, and that’s the bottom line,” Jeter said. “Nothing has changed.”