The Yankees were able to finish their west coast trip on somewhat of a good note as they beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 6-5, on Sunday. However, they ended up losing five out of their last six games combined in Oakland and Anaheim.
The offense is struggling as it has not in recent times as they only scored four or more runs four times during the 10-game west coast trip. In the last two games against Oakland and the first two against Anaheim the bats only scored two runs in each of those games.
This can partly be blamed on Kevin Youkilis not hitting and going back on the disabled list combining with Mark Teixeira not getting a hit in his last 12 at bats and only having eight hits in 53 at bats (.151) since coming off of the disabled list. The team is not saying that he will be out for a few days with an inflamed wrist.
Another factor that is holding back the offensive output is that as of Sunday the Yankees lineup had four players batting less than .250. Reid Brignac, who is playing shortstop as a result of the injuries to Eduardo Nunez and Derek Jeter, has a .100 average. Lyle Overbay, who had a strong start to the season, has a .240 average. Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner, who both had hot starts to the season, have a .230 and .221 average, respectively.
The only players who have really been hitting well recently are Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano. Brett Gardner, who was the AL Player of the Week last week, has hits in six out of the past seven games, and has multiple hits in four of those games. He has also contributed to stolen bases and five runs scored. Robinson Cano has hits in five out of the past six games with one homer during the Oakland series.
Hopefully Travis Hafner’s much needed three-run homer on Sunday is a sign that he is over his slump. The Yankees need another batter to hit for power in their lineup. He has 11 homers on the season, but before yesterday’s game Hafner had gone 23 at bats without a hit.
In Sunday’s victory, CC Sabathia picked up his seventh win of the season after allowing only two runs in eight innings pitched. He had eight strikeouts during the game. However, the game was came down to the ninth inning because the combo of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera struggled like they rarely do.
Robertson, who had a 2.30 ERA coming into the game, allowed two runs, and Rivera allowed a run as the Yankees were lucky to escape with the win.
The Yankees, who are in a three way tie for the Wild-Card, will start a two-game series against the underwhelming Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday. They are managed by Don Mattingly, who had his number 23 retired by the Yankees after his stellar career. He is one of 16 former Yankees who have had their number retired., Unfortunately, he played for the Yankees when they were not have a lot of talent and were just getting got when he retired, which resulted in him not making it to the playoffs.
In the series finale against the Oakland Athletics, the Yankees lost 3-2 in 18 innings. Oakland swept the Yankees in the three-game set, as their offense continues to struggle. The Yankees have not scored more than four runs since their 6-1 win over the Mariners. They have gone 2-4 since then.
The Yankees had many opportunities to win the game as they left 11 runners on base from the 10th until the 14th inning. In the 11th, they had the bases loaded and were unable to score, and in the 13th, the Yankees had runners on first and second with no outs and failed to get a clutch hit.
The only runs of the game for the Yankees would be when Robinson Cano hit a homer that scored Brett Gardner in the first. Then, the Yankees would combine for the equivalent of two games of scoreless baseball.
Mark Teixeira, Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis, who were the four, five and six hitters, respectively, combined to go 0-20 with nine strikeouts. Those three, who should be relied upon to drive in runs, also combined to leave 17 batters on base. They will have to start to hit in the series against the Angels.
It is alarming that they have lost their last three games against the Athletics because they are now 14-19 against teams that currently have a winning record. It is a positive sign that they are able to beat teams under .500, but the Yankees have to be able to swing the bats in order to make the playoffs. They are currently in a half-a-game behind behind the Orioles and Rangers for the Wild-Card and 3.0 games behind the Red Sox for first place in the AL East.
Hiroki Kuroda had yet another dominating performance as he allowed only two runs and two hits in eight innings, but the offense needs to give the starter more run support.
Adam Warren’s performance out of the bullpen, where he threw six masterful shutout innings after the ninth inning, was wasted as a result of the previously stated incompetence by the offense.
This game lasted a startling five hours and thirty-five minutes, had 510 pitches, 14 pitchers combined and it the first time that the Yankees played a game of at least 18 innings since Sept. 11, 1988.
After losing four in a row to the Mets, and five games overall, the Yankees (31-23) got a much needed 4-1 victory of the rival Boston Red Sox. They are now one game behind Boston for first place in the AL East.
In three out of the last four games the Yankees only scored one run against the suspect Mets’ pitching staff. Jon Lester, who has a 3.53 ERA, turned out to the pitcher who would bring the bats to life. This was the game that first baseman, Mark Teixeira, and third baseman, Kevin Youkilis, finally made their return from injury.
In his season debut, Teixeira went 0-3 but did score a run after getting a walk in the second. The team has not been drawing walks recently so Teixeira’s ability to do so, in addition to his power, will definitely help. Teixeira usually struggles during the first month of the season so hopefully he will be able to hit like it is June. The team can’t have him take a month to start to hit like in past seasons. This is because once he gets in his groove he is one of the best hitters in baseball.
In Youkilis’s first game action since April 27, he was able to g0 1-4. His single drove in Ichiro Suzuki for the team’s third run of the game. His return from the disabled list will move David Adams into a reserve role. Adams started out hitting well but is now in the middle of a slump.
Ichiro went 2-3 with two runs scored and an RBI during the night game at Yankee Stadium and is showing signs of hitting like he did last season. He is now nine for his last 24, which is a .375 average. The Yankees need him to hit for a high average and score runs so that he can be a spark plug at the bottom of the lineup.
Also, just as importantly as Teixeira and Youkilis helping the offense is that CC Sabathia returned to his dominating ways. Sabathia has been the ace of the staff since 2009 but has struggled a little recently. He came into the game 0-2 with a 4.86 ERA in his last five starts (he had actually allowed two runs or less in three of those starts).
It appears that with this start Sabathia is continuing his trent of pitching better as the temperature rises. He also tied his season high of 10 strikeouts in the game against the Red Sox.
In the 7:05 p.m. game tonight on FOX, Phil Hughes will pitch for the Yankees (2-3, 4.97 ERA) and Felix Doubront (3-2, 5.29 ERA) will pitch for Boston. Hughes is coming off two successful starts where he allowed two runs or less in both outings so hopefully he will help the team start a winning streak.
Also, in other news, Curtis Granderson is donating $5 million to help his alma mater, University of Illinois-Chicago, build a new baseball stadium. The total cost to build the stadium is $7 million. It is great that even though Granderson has twice been the victim of bad luck as a result of being hit by a pitch, he continues to make a difference everywhere that he can.
One can hope that the opening day starter, CC Sabathia, can repeat his stats from last season, where he picked 15 wins, had a 3.38 ERA and 197 strikeouts. Luckily, Sabathia did not show any signs of losing his stuff or velocity last season. One can also be optimistic that the injured stars on the team – Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes – will not have any setbacks in their recovery or will even return to health in a faster manner. Finally, the Yankees will need to hope that that their very experienced replacements in the Opening Day lineup will be able to perform capably, while not repeating the stats that they put forth last season. In the Opening Day lineup against the rival Red Sox, Eduardo Nunez will be replacing Jeter at shortstop, Vernon Wells will be filing in for Granderson in left field and Kevin Youkilis will be replacing Teixeira at first base (he is also expected to play third base).
Alex Rodriguez is also injured as a result of having to get surgery on his hip, but I don’t consider him a star anymore. Youkilis, who was brought to the Yankees after it was determined that A-Rod would return no earlier than July, could be just as good if he can turn back the clock. Youkilis will hopefully be able to duplicate his performance from 2011 when he hit .258 and drove in 80 runs for the Red Sox.
This is the Opening Day lineup that the Yankees will send out against the Red Sox in the Bronx at 1:05 p.m.
Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Ben Francisco DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix 3B
Francisco Cervelli C