It’s happening again. The Yankees’ offense, the highest scoring unit in the league, has hit yet another skid. In their last two games, while facing teams with the 13th and 11th most runs allowed in the AL, they’ve scored one run total. They did go homer happy the game before that pair, but the night before that they couldn’t score against the Royals bullpen. The slide has allowed the Rays to once again force a tie atop the AL East. With the way the Yankees are playing, might this be their last stand?
While those afflicted with selective amnesia might think that the end is nigh for the Yankees, it takes a memory of only a few months to realize that they have done this before. They celebrated the start of June with three wins over the Orioles, in which they scored 18 total runs. But the offense collapsed after traveling to Toronto. They scored one run in the series opener, and then scored just two in the next, spoiling an excellent Andy Pettitte start. Even in the next game the Yanks went seven full innings before scoring a run, and even then won in bizarre fashion.
A few games against Baltimore and Houston covered up for the offense, but then they hit another slide just two weeks later. It started with a lackluster effort against Jamie Moyer and carried over to the next day when they scored just one run off Kyle Kendrick. The following game against the Mets was so frustrating that it inspired an eight-word recap. The Yanks did score 28 runs in their next five games, winning four of them, but there were certainly a few sloppy ones in there. It led, unsurprisingly, to another stretch of relative futility.
The Yanks eked out a win in a game where they let a hapless starter off the hook with poor base running and strike zone management. They followed that with a two-run performance in LA, which they won thanks to CC Sabathia being awesome. They then scored three early but couldn’t add much to the total in a Burnett-induced loss. The series finale looked like a lost cause, but was only salvaged with an improbable ninth-inning comeback off one of the league’s elite closers. Then, heading home, the Yanks couldn’t score off Cliff Lee, and then were thoroughly dominated by Felix Hernandez. As June came to a close it looked like the offense had lost all life.
After that, of course, the Yankees went on a tear, scoring 56 runs in the 11 games before the All-Star break, going 9-2 in that stretch. They came out of the break in a fury, too, scoring 94 runs in 15 games and going 11-5 to finish off July. They’ve stumbled a bit in August, going 6-8, though they have scored almost four runs per game despite being shut out twice. Even with the 6-8 record they still hold a share of first place. They were in the same position 11 days ago, and both the Yanks and the Rays have gone 5-5 in their last 10 to bring things back to even. This is pretty much what we expected at the start of the season, no?
When the Yanks are going bad it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and get lost in the moment. The Yanks look bad right now, but it’s not like we haven’t seen this type of skid already this season. We have, and it was no fun. It’s even less fun this time around. But the Yankees still share the best record in baseball. Their performance relative to other teams has been superb. Isn’t that the whole idea of a baseball season?