The Yankees really had a chance to do some damage this week. Coming off of a promising two-game sweep of the then-first place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yanks had four games against two fifth place teams. The future seemed bright and promising.
Well, here we are four days later, and the Yanks managed to go an utterly unimpressive 1-3 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays. The now-second place Rays haven’t won in seven games, and the Yanks find themselves 5.5 games behind Tampa in the Wild Card race and six behind Boston for the division. The Yanks have managed to gain just two measly games on Tampa and lose two to Boston over their last 10 days. That, folks, is dropping the ball.
Today, Andy Pettitte drew the short straw. Number 46 threw a decent enough game. He ran into one spot of trouble in the second when Marco Scutaro delivered his 34th career home run. The Blue Jays wouldn’t need anymore offense, and the Yanks lost 4-1, their lone run coming on Jason Giambi’s 19th home run, tying him with A-Rod for the team lead at the break.
After the game, no one was too happy about the outcome, and with the extra off-day on Thursday, the team will have four days to stew this one over. “We stink right now, for the most part. As a team, we’ve kind of stunk it up here lately and we’ve got to play better,” Pettitte said to reporters after the game.
As PeteAbe noted, Pettitte’s comments were right on the money. Per the Journal-News’ beatwriter, 25 of the Yanks’ 32 plate appearances were three pitchers or fewer. The Yanks didn’t even bother to try to work the count facing a pitcher throwing on three day’s rest.
Now, the Yanks head into the break facing a lot of questions and with no answers. They still don’t know if they’re buyers or sellers; they still don’t know if they’re legitimate playoff contenders or a just a collection of overpaid and underperforming aging baseball players. We’re heading some alarming trade rumors that would address a need — middle relief — that has been one of the team’s lone bright spots these days.
The Yanks are directionless, and they collectively have a few days to forget about baseball. Other than Derek Jeter, A-Rod and Mariano Rivera, the Bombers will scatter home for the next four days. When they come back, the team could look different or they could go through the motions for the rest of the month and sell off whatever spare parts other teams want on July 31st. We’ve still got a long way to go before the season ends, but that +24 run differential suggests a team not bound for October baseball quite yet.