As we look into our current stretch of games, the New York Yankees primarily play the AL East. We’ve all seen teams collapse on the very last day of the season, Boston and Atlanta being the two latest examples, so how can the Yankees avoid that? At this point, the Yankees have gone stumbling into September and are in a very crucial spot. After playing Tampa Bay, the Yankees play Baltimore again, then Boston and then more of the AL East with a touch of the Oakland A’s thrown in there. This is not at all what anyone expected from the Yankees, especially when it seemed that everything was clicking. Two major forces are currently out of the line-up in Curtis Granderson (though he looks to return soon) and Mark Teixeira. Now while Granderson had been going through perhaps the worst slump of his career, Tex was still providing some firepower. The Yankees’ pitching scenario is a little crazy as well and the team as a whole must avoid a collapse.
The one frustrating thing for the Yankees, and well us fans, is that they have been giving some games away lately. The bullpen has turned 180 degrees in the opposite direction and skipper Joe Girardi is trying to do what he can to put the pieces together. Pitching match-ups make sense, but when he burns through three relievers in one inning, it begins to have a wear and tear effect on guys. Pitching, well bullpen pitching, is much more mental than it is physical. It’s not that pitching is easy physically, but mentally, a reliever is put into a pinch without any rhythm from the game. Joba Chamberlain has been a huge reason as to why the bullpen is starting to falter as nearly every time he goes out on the mound, it’s assured he’s going to give up a run. Chamberlain’s future as a Yankee may be decided after the season if this keeps up.
Even the starters have had a tough go of things lately. Phil Hughes was rocked for five earned runs in his last outing against the Orioles, in which he gave up two home runs. The void that is the fourth spot in the rotation currently belongs to David Phelps who has been roughed up as well. Freddy Garcia has been trying to hold his own, and even then, he didn’t make it out of five innings in his last start. CC Sabathia hasn’t done too badly lately despite yesterday’s loss. Hiroki Kuroda will look to rebound from his previous outing in Wednesday night’s game.
Offensively, it’s been a battle of the ups and downs. Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher have really been carrying the offense lately, but even then it might not be enough. Eric Chavez will usually provide a solid bat in the line-up, but due to him being injury prone, the Yankees unfortunately cannot play him everyday. On the flip side, Russell Martin might as well be replaced by a scarecrow when it’s his turn to bat. If the Yankees are only keeping him because of his defense, then that’s one thing. However, the fact that an everyday player is not hitting over .200 and we’re into September, speaks volumes. Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki have also been have some trouble at the plate lately as they both are batting below .200 for the past week or so.
This isn’t a time for the Yankees to slack. The Rays have always been a thorn in the sides of the Bombers and with their lethal pitching, it only spells disaster for the Yanks. Playing in the Trop has not been in the favor of the Yankees this year, nor has it really even been in our favor. The Orioles, who have now won three series against the Yanks in New York, are threatening to take over first. Both the Rays and Orioles have tried to play spoiler to the Yankees before and this time, it may be a fatal blow.
September is not an easy month. Playing a lot of AL East games in a row may or may not bode well for us, but we have to stand strong regardless. The Yankees do not have commanding season leads over the Rays and Orioles and in fact, have lost seven out of 12 games to the Rays this season. This is a lead that a few months ago some of us may have been comfortable with, but not anymore.