May
16

The last five-game losing streak

By

The longer the losing lasts, the tougher it is to see the end. It becomes tougher still when the team’s primary strength, the offense, goes into a scoring drought. During the losing streak the Yankees have scored just 17 runs, or 3.4 per game. In May, during which they’ve gone 5-9, they have scored just four runs per game. It has led to what appears to be a record low confidence level. But really, it’s not all bad. Teams slump all the time, and it always seems worse than the reality. This was exactly the case the last time the Yankees went on a five-game losing streak.

For all the angst that September, 2010 caused, it did not involve a five-game skid. There were two four-game skids in there, but never five in a row. The last time the Yankees dropped five games was two years ago — at almost the same time of year as the current one. It started on May 2, with a loss to the Angels. (Which, as you’ll recall, followed a dramatic come-from-behind win the previous evening.) Five days, and short sweeps at the hands of Boston and Tampa Bay, later and they were 13-15, already five games behind the Red Sox for first.

At the time no one took those five losses lightly. The Yankees had gone through most of April with a record around .500, which didn’t match the hype. Alex Rodriguez was still out of the lineup, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira had gotten off to slow starts, and the team actually produced a negative run differential. The walk-off win against the Angels was uplifting for a fleeting moment, but a loss at the hands of Matt Palmer stung badly. But it didn’t sting as badly as the ensuing losses to Tampa Bay and Boston.

The second game of that Boston series was the most frustrating of all those losses. Joba Chamberlain started and promptly surrendered four runs in the first. He came back to strike out 12 in the game, absolutely stupefying the Red Sox hitters. Of course, all those strikeouts mean a high pitch count, and Chamberlain exited after 5.2 innings. In came the bullpen, which gave up another three runs. Not that it mattered. The Yankees scored only three, so they couldn’t have overcome the early deficit even if Chamberlain pitched all nine and struck out 20.

The Tampa Bay series hurt for different reasons. Down 3-0 in the eighth inning of the first game, they loaded the bases for Mark Teixeira, who cleared them with a double. Of course, that all went for naught in the 10th, when Phil Coke gave up a homer to Carlos Pena. In the second game they again tied the game in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to a Johnny Damon homer, only to have Mo blow the game in the ninth on a pair of home runs. That felt like quite the low point.

Things didn’t get better right away, either. While CC Sabathia turned in a marvelous performance that Friday, shutting out the Orioles, Phil Hughes got rocked the next day. A win on Sunday boosted confidence, but then they lost to Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays on Monday. Of course, immediately following that they rattled off nine straight wins, including walk-off weekend against Minnesota. So when things did turn around, they did so in exciting fashion.

While this five-game skid has hurt, I don’t think it was quite as bad as the one in 2009. That was full of frustration thanks to completely winnable games. There has been plenty of that this time around, true. But in 2009 it got to the point where I didn’t even watch Sabathia’s start against Baltimore. Tonight I’ll certainly tune in. We know that the team is much better than this. We also know that the best Yankees team in the past decade went through a similar phase at a similar point in the season. These things happen, and while they’re infuriating at the time, for the good teams they tend to blow over. If this is the worst it gets, it really won’t have been all that bad.

Categories : Days of Yore

70 Comments»

  1. Justin says:

    Also: two games out of first, playing the team ahead of us. Yes, it could go poorly, but even if we lose both of these, we’re closer than we were in May of 09.

    It’s annoying, and it makes me avoid the Daily News, but… we can survive. We’ll go on a kick-ass streak at some point.

    • MikeD says:

      One should always avoid the Daily News.

    • dave says:

      Hate to inject reality here BUT this is a continuation of the end of the season into the first quarter of this year.
      Now any of you think that this is going to change you need to stop smoking that funny stuff.

      • Clay Bellinger says:

        The end of last season that included a “smoking” of the Minnesota Twins and two games away from the WS? The start of this season that had them in first less than a week ago?

  2. Yankee1010 says:

    Hell, in June of 2009 things got so bad against Washington, Florida and Atlanta, Cashman went down to Atlanta to give them a pep talk.

    Yes, they have played abysmal baseball and it has been beyond frustrating to watch, but they’ll snap out of it. And for the sanity of everyone involved, please let it be soon.

    • Monteroisdinero says:

      Time for Cervelli’s annual HR after a pep talk. Oh-he already hit one.

      Time for Nunez to hit one then.

  3. The Fallen Phoenix says:

    Well, Tampa Bay had an eight-game losing streak this season, and they were able to rebound from it.

    A five-game losing streak is not the end of the world.

  4. Kostas says:

    Not to get off topic of this thread but over at Itsaboutthemoney.com There is a good piece on reputation in regards to Posada. But it is also applicable to Jeter. Check it out.

  5. Buck says:

    I don’t recall the 2009 team being that old and this pitiful defensively. Their major issue was the bullpen till that got straightened out and awaiting ARod’s return.

    This team is downright terrible. The 2009 Derek Jeter is long gone, as is Posada. Not to mention, Andy Pettitte has ridden off in the sunset.

    Are we to believe that they can all of a sudden tighten up their defense? That Brett Gardner can actually lay down a bunt? How about stealing a base at an 80% success rate?

    Sadly, their pitching has been decent, but how long will the reclamation projects hold out?

    This team probably will resemble the 1965 Yankees which surprisingly fell off the map more than it will the 2009 Yankees.

    Maybe the Yanks can trade for Melky again! j/k

    • Banks says:

      Funny, because I’m sure that as soon as they rattle off a 5 game winning streak people will get off their nuts. 2 games out of first despite poor production from the 1,3,4,8,9 spots….thats actually encouraging.

    • bexarama says:

      It’s not unreasonable to think they won’t be at a 13 errors in 10 games pace, no. And Brett Gardner’s issue is he needs to stop fuckin’ bunting, not get better at it

      • murakami says:

        No, he needs to get better at it. He’s not going to survive on slapping hits around the infield is anyone’s on base. That’s just a force waiting to happen to the lead runner. He needs some type of weapon to move runners over, because he’s going to come up with them on base. You cannot depend on him to hit line drives. He’s got to learn to bunt. Walking and the occasional hitting spree won’t sustain him. Not if he’s really going to be an asset. He’s a left fielder with no slugging. He has to learn to sac bunt & drag bunt.

      • MikeD says:

        Worse, if he gets better at bunting, then he might try it even more, and Girardi might call for it more. So in some off way, perhaps we should root for failure on the bunt. No. No. Doesn’t matter. Girardi will still keep trying it.

      • murakami says:

        Just want to be clear that I am for Girardi not giving away outs. What I’m in favor of though is Gardner, with limited skill set and tremendous speed, learning to bunt as a weapon to move runners and also to bunt for hits.

        • Monteroisdinero says:

          He’s had 2 ST’s to work on this with minimal improvement. What is also frustrating is showing bunt but taking strikes.

          • Clay Bellinger says:

            Not to mention the years he spent in the minors…can’t imagine they didn’t work on the bunting thing then too.

        • At this point, I’m hoping that all our players start bunting even more poorly. Maybe it will convince Joe to stop trying it, because it just can’t be executed.

          Everytime Joe calls for the sac bunt, just pop it straight up towards the third baseman. Bunt into a humiliating double play. Do it 10 nights in a row. Make the bunt backfire so badly that Joe gets shellshock and can’t even think about bunting without breaking into a cold sweat and getting hives. Make the bunt so disgustingly pathetic and rally-killing that Joe orders signs that say “NO BUNTING” right next to the signs that say “NO PEPPER”.

    • Guest says:

      I think people are way, way, way overplaying the age of this team.

      They are overplaying it because they are just a little behind the curve. They still think this is A-Rod and Jeter’s team. And A-rod and Jeter are old.

      But A-rod and Jeter are merely the FACE of this team. They are no-longer, to use an over-used term, the CORE of this team.

      And the core of this team — Tex, Robbie, C-Grand, and CC — are all still in their primes.

      In addition, Gardner, Swish, and R-Mart are also in their primes.

      The Yankees have an old SS, an old 3B, and an old DH (currently).
      But otherwise, they are actually pretty well stocked with elite talent who aren’t yet fighting off father time. Better stocked than many Yankee teams of recent vintage. (Remember, as great as they were in ’09, Damon and Matsui were exactly chickens of the spring variety).

      • Guest says:

        “were not exactly”

      • vin says:

        Exactly. The age argument holds no water. The only old guy who is still among the best/most important players on the team is Mo. And He’s ageless, as we all know.

      • murakami says:

        We also have a big-time move to make to help the offense if we would just pull the trigger. Call up Montero. Banuelos will be added in Sept. to help alleviate woes against LHH. If Hughes can rebound and return, that’s a big lift to the rotation right there.

        It’s also unlikely that the 3-4-5 hitters continue to suck in unison.

      • Clay Bellinger says:

        Nicely stated.

      • Just one nitpick… A-Rod is your clean-up hitter and has almost 7 years left on his deal. I think you have to consider him a pretty big part of the “core” of this team right now.

        • Guest says:

          Oh, you are totally right in terms of what A-Rod “should” be. And he is certainly the “core” of our payroll.

          But “should” and “is” are two different things.

          If you take A-Rod out of your list of “core” players, and are still left with Tex, Robbie, C-Grand, and CC, I think you can still pretty safely say you have an elite core of players.

          A-Rod is one of the best players of all time. There is no one on the planet who can convince me otherwise. No one. And, I actually believe he still has the potential to produce at elite levels. (I mean, he was doing so until he got an injury that hitters often struggle to recover from).

          But, could the Yankees succeed if he is their fourth best hitter? With what we have seen from C-Grand, Tex, and Robbie, I think the answer is yes. Absolutely.

          It would be nice if 2007 A-Rod stopped by to say howdie, but the Yankees don’t need that guy. 2009-2010 A-Rod (or even a bit worse) would do just fine given the other pieces that are on this squad.

    • murakami says:

      Melky was an IFA, we didn’t trade for him a first time, so we couldn’t trade for him “again”.

      & I’ll take his left-handed numbers about now: .301/.344/.513 (9 2B, 3 3B, 3HR, 21 RBI). That lefty swing would play just fine in YS.

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        Berkman and Damon are doing pretty well too but hindsight is always 20/20.

        I wanted Crawford (pats himself on back for honesty) and that ain’t going too well right now. Of course, I wanted him as a replacement for Swisher (who moves to DH), not Gardy. And Swish as a replacement for Posada who I thought would be performing as he has.

        • MikeD says:

          Really, you thought he would collapse from a player who based on last year’s numbers would have been the third-best DH in the league to historically bad?

        • murakami says:

          I didn’t want Melky moved, though. I understand why they didn’t want to pay 3.1 million for him, but at 1.2 who they could decide to let go at year’s end I’d jump. He can play all 3 OF positions and he would really be helpful in RF with that arm and to give Swisher a day now and again. He’s drilling the ball into the gaps, too. I think he’d be a good option. Alex was right.

          • MikeD says:

            By a number of metrics, Melky was the worst player in MLB in 2010.

            • murakami says:

              Who cares?? He’s hitting now. Any way, I doubt they deal for him, although he probably would not cost much.

              • Steve H says:

                So his 2011 stats outweigh the rest of his career, including his horrible full season in 2010? By that measure Dustin Pedroia sucks because he’s not hitting now.

                • murakami says:

                  He has gap power, lefty HR power in YS, and he’s driving guys in front of him in. I like the way he is hitting the ball. Barely any slap hits.

        • aluis says:

          NEWS FLASH: Johnny Damon is NOT doing pretty well…check the stats!

          http://www.baseball-reference......jo01.shtml

    • This team is downright terrible.

      No. The Twins are downright terrible. The Yankees are scuffling but still already have 20 wins in the bank that can’t be taken away, no matter how gloomy things may look. The Yankees have had some things go well and some things go poorly. Terrible teams have everything go poorly, which is why they end up in last place at the Ides of May. That’s not this team.

      Are we to believe that they can all of a sudden tighten up their defense?

      Yes. Is the concept of a defensive slump somehow impossible? Offenses slump, defenses can too.

      Sadly, their pitching has been decent, but how long will the reclamation projects hold out?

      Tough to say. But later in the year, when some of them have potentially stopped being effective, we might have one or two of several in-house candidates ready to replace them, like Hughes, Silva, Noesi, Phelps, Warren, or even Brackman Banuelos or Betances (aggressive, but not impossible). And the trade market will have opened up, and we might be able to add one or two guys from a noncontender (Jackson, Buerhle, Floyd, Danks, Liriano, Blackburn, Baker, Lowe, Marquis, Rodriguez, Myers, Kuroda, Lilly, or Harang, to name a few) to help out.

      The bottom line is, Colon and Garcia weren’t guys we were counting on to support us all year long. Obviously, with Phil crapping out so far, we’re counting on them a little more than initially planned, but that initial plan involved them holding the fort until midseason when other options would present themselves, and that part of the equation is still intact.

  6. CountZero says:

    Cherry picked, but all the same…

    Since April 24th, A-Rod: .184/.225/.250 with 3BB and 20K.

    That’s 19 games and 80 PAs. Hip? Or just a long slump? This is what is keeping me up late at night. Particularly the OBP.

    Anyone been dissecting his swing over the past few weeks for signs of an adjustment based on pain / stiffness?

    • murakami says:

      Well if Alex can’t be himself we can’t win. That I’ll say.

    • CP says:

      It started right when he went out with the oblique. The most likely explanation is that he made adjustments when he came back (probably sub-consciously) and has just been out of whack since then and unable to get back in the rhythm. They’ve talked about and show differences in his swing from before and after, and there are real differences, so my uneducated opinion is that it’s mostly mechanical (and the fact that he’s older means he has less margin for error in his mechanics).

      • murakami says:

        Yes I’m sure you’re right he’s likely compensating somewhere because of the oblique. Hasn’t had much of a leg kick lately or much torque when he swings. The latter is probably oblique related.

  7. murakami says:

    I think the heartening thing is they are so bad on so many levels at the moment. Even the pitching in the last couple days has fallen down. The infield defense stuff isn’t going to continue. It’s just unpleasant, that’s all.

  8. Kostas says:

    The effects of this losing streak all come down to the way they are playing, not the losing. If they had lost 5 in a row due to (1) Mo giving up a GW HR; (2) Faced pitchers throwing like Beckett; (3) Had not folded agains teams like Detroit, KC; and (4) not failed to produced minimal runs with repeated RISP and less than 2 outs, I believe people could digest it better.

    There is no excuse for repeated games from a Yankees team where the probability of fielder errors, baserunning mistakes, or the appearance of lack of effort are acceptable.

    • Thomas says:

      I really don’t think it is the way they are losing, it is just that they are losing. People will always find something to complain about.

      For example, if the Yankees hit well in RISP situation and still lost, we’d complain about the starters wasting a good offensive day. Or we’d complain about the bullpen blowing a good start. Or the defense letting the pitching down. Etc.

      A loss is always disheartening regardless of the way. It is disappointing to see the Yankees blow a lead late, be blown out early, or fall behind and have a rally come up short. No matter how the loss comes we’ll complain about it.

  9. first time lawng time says:

    The only thing that bothers me about this right now is that they’ve lost a lot of homegames and games to weaker teams. They have a harder schedule later this year.

    I didn’t watch the first half of 2009, so this is ny first 5 game losing streak…it’s funny, they are still more enjoyable to watch now than they were last September for whatever reason.

    • Kostas says:

      The strength of their schedule later in the year is always going to be relative to how a team is playing. There are some bad teams out there right now and most do not have a glimpse of getting better.

  10. Kostas says:

    Here is a question, not really a solution, would switching Cano and Tex in the line up make sense, short term?

    • CP says:

      Probably not. Tex is the better OBP guy (both now and through his career) and he’s better batting ahead of the power hitters.

  11. Billy Mumphrey says:

    I think what the past 5 games have exemplified is that Jeter is old and done, Posada is old and done, A-Rod is old, injured, and done. Cano needs to be moved up to 4th, Gardy back up to lead off, Jeter to 2nd, Grandy to 5th, A-Rod 6th. If Jeter continues to strugle we have no choice but to move Grandy back to 2nd and Jeter to 9th.

    • CP says:

      What about games 4-8 of the season? Did they tell you the same thing?

      How about games 11-15?

    • Guest says:

      Seeing this, a completely implausible conspiracy theory* popped into my head: what if dropping Posada to 9 was merely a test case for seeing how dropping Jeter to 9 would work.

      I think the results were: not positive.

      Again, I don’t actually think this impacted anyone in the Yankee brass’ thinking. Would just be kind of interesting if it di.

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