The Yankees lost 8-3 in the series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. Yankee Stadium seemed like it was only about 65 percent full as there were many empty seats for the weekday game.
The Bronx Bombers have not lived up to their nickname recently. Including last night’s game, the Yankees have scored more than four runs only once in the past nine games. The inability to score runs has contributed to the team going 2-7 in the last nine games.
Part of this can be blamed on the injuries to Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez, Francisco Cervelli, but it also has to do with Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay not hitting like they did earlier in the season. However, a player like Vernon Wells was brought to the team to play the first or two and then was expected to be a fourth outfielder after Granderson was healthy.
The crowd at the game did not really have much to cheer for as the Yankees only scored runs in the sixth inning. They only had three hits outside of that sixth inning where the Yankees should have scored more runs than they did since they had bases loaded an no outs. They scored three runs off of only one hit as the Yankees couldn’t capitalize on Matt Moore allowing free passes to Brett Gardner and Jayson Nix.
Andy Pettitte was not locating his pitches as he would have liked to since he allowed nine hits and five runs in 6.2 innings. He has now struggled for two starts in a row as he allowed 11 hits and four runs in his previous outing.
Evan Longoria hit a homer against Pettitte and another against the increasingly unreliable Joba Chamberlain. Joe Girardi should have taken Chamberlain out of the game after he struck out Ben Zobrist to end the seventh inning.
A noteworthy play for the Yankees was that Zoilo Almonte, who was called up from AAA Scranton on Tuesday and made his debut during Game 2 on Wednesday, hit a ground ball that smashed into third base and flew up in the air for his first major league hit. This is something that I have not seen in person before.
The team needs to hope that Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay can find their hitting stroke once again to combine with the solid hitting from Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and Ichiro. This is because there is not much hope from the rest of the lineup right now.
The Toronto Blue Jays have suddenly won eight of their last 10 games, which means that the Yankees need to play with a sense of urgency. The Yankees are still 4.5 ahead of them in the AL East, but it is now obvious that all five teams in the division are quality ones.