For the first time in their team history, the Tampa Bay Rays find themselves in uncharted territories: Following a 7-1 drubbing of a lethargic Yankee team, they are six games over .500, a franchise high-water mark.
Following tonight’s loss, Mike and I were talking about this game. We both agreed — and this is hardly breaking news — that the Yankees without Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez are a vastly inferior team than they are otherwise. The middle of their lineup lacks punch, and the bottom of the lineup — led by a struggling Jose Molina — is fairly heinous.
I was all set to write about how the Yankees look old and bored and the Rays looked young and exuberant. But then Mark Feindsand beat me to it:
If you’ve ever watched the Rays play, it’s easy to see their enthusiasm and excitement, both on and off the field. They joke around in the dugout, they run around the field like a bunch of kids and they look like they’re having a great time playing the game.
Compared to the Rays, the Yankees look like a bunch of 60-year-olds.
That about sums up the play on the field tonight.
Meanwhile, let’s talk about Andy Pettitte. Over his last four starts spanning 21.1 innings, Pettitte finds himself 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA. He’s given up 28 hits and six walks while striking out a respectable 17. Pettitte just hasn’t had it lately, and the Yanks need him to find it.
Tonight, Pettitte’s problem seemed to be one of pitch selection. He was hitting 89-91 with his fastball, which should be fast enough to get out hitters as he mixes in his curveball and cutter. But Jason Barlett beat him on a curveball — the third straight curveball of the at-bat. Pettitte got a little too cutesy with a player hitting .248 with no power, and Barlett delivered the death blow.
The Yanks find themselves again treading water. They’re yet again one game under that .500 mark, but they haven’t lost ground to the Red Sox, losers of three out of four in Minneapolis this weekend. At some point, something’s gotta give. The Yanks need to turn it on. Can they really afford to wait another week while A-Rod recovers?