It might be Hideki Matsui. The Yanks are hitting .252/.337/.380 since he went down. It might be Johnny Damon. The Bombers have mustered a .248/.315/.349 line since he hit the DL. But whatever it is, the Yankees just aren’t hitting right now.
Nothing proved that point like tonight’s uninspired loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh. While Mike Mussina threw another quality start — 6 innings, 9 hits, 2 earned runs, no walks, 5 strike outs — to lower his ERA to 3.61, the Yankees bats couldn’t muster much of anything against a left-handed Paul Maholm. A brief two hours and thirty-seven minutes after the first pitch, the Yanks escaped Pittsburgh, losing an opportunity to gain valuable ground on the idle Red Sox and the shellacked Rays.
The game itself doesn’t lend itself to verbose musings. The offense looked bad, Jose Veras didn’t do the job, and the Yanks fell short. The story is in the details. In July, the Yanks bats have all but disappeared. Outside of that 18-run game against the Rangers, the Yankees, by my calculations, are hitting .230 with a .296 OBP and a .300 slugging percentage as a team in July. That’s worse than Melky. (Zing!)
Cheap shots at Melky aside, the only answer for this team right now is that they’re in a slump, and they are continually fielding a lineup with Jose Molina and the young Mr. Cabrera at the bottom. Bobby Abreu hasn’t hit much since he took out Nick Blackburn — .237/.318/.370 since the second game of that Twins seriers — and the lineup can hold up a bunch of struggling starters.
So far, the Yanks have managed to win because of their superior pitching. The bullpen — prior to tonight — has been outstanding, and the starting pitchers are, by and large, getting the job down with three of the hurlers being outstanding and two being serviceable to okay. The Yanks could have won many more games recently than they have.
At some point, something will give; the bats will come alive or the pitching will falter. I’m hoping for the former while dreading the latter. Either way, this offensive malaise doesn’t make for fun Yankee baseball.