En route to a 5-1 win on Sunday, the Twins managed to plate five of their 13 base runners. The Yankees managed to score just one run — on a Derek Jeter solo shot — while 10 other base runners were either erased via the double play or left stranded. And that, my friends, makes all the difference.
After a hot stretch of hitting well over .300 with runners in scoring position, the Yanks returned to their lethargic ways yesterday. Darrell Rasner did what a fifth starter does; he threw 5.1 innings and gave up four runs. He allowed far too many base runners — 10 for a WHIP of 1.88 — but struck out five as he fell to 3-2. The Yanks meanwhile couldn’t get much of anything going against Nick Blackburn, and when a Bobby Abreu line drive hit Blackburn, who is okay, the Bombers couldn’t muster much against the Twins bullpen.
In the end, it’s tough to look at this game and complain. Unlike their extra-innings loss to Baltimore last week, this wasn’t a game the Yanks let slip away, and the team is an impressive 7-3 over their last 10 games. If they play .700 ball the rest of the way, they’ll end the season with 102 wins. It’s an unlikely outcome, but the sky certainly isn’t falling.
The only problem, though, is that the Yanks have once again put themselves in a situation where they have to win. By starting off slowly for yet another season, the Yanks find themselves playing catch up, and unlike previous years where they were just trying to catch up to the Red Sox, they are chasing both the Red Sox and the up-start Tampa Bay Rays, the AL’s best team right now.
The Yanks have gained two games on Boston during their hot streak, but they’ve ceded a game to Tampa who is 8-2 with two walk-off wins over their last 10 contests. The Yanks clearly won’t win every day, but they’re in a position where they seemingly have to.