After blowing two 5-0 leads to the Red Sox and then being embarrassed last night against the Rays, the Yankees fell to 4 games behind the Rays for first, and to make matters worse, Jorge Posada could miss a month with a hairline fracture in his foot.
Maybe, just maybe, it's time to start worrying a bit.
Last night's game was all about the starters. A.J. Burnett had nothing, allowing six runs on nine hits, walking four and struck out four over 6.2 innings. He struggled with command of his fastball, and at times--particularly the fourth inning--looked like he had no idea where the pitch was going. He also did a poor job holding runners on as the Rays were able to steal six bases in the game.
On the night he threw 116 pitches, 67 for strikes. Here's what Burnett said about his start:
“[My fastball] got away from me that one inning,” he said. ... “It’s a matter of not having those innings where it slips away and being more consistent,” Burnett said. “When I first started off (the season) I was consistent, the first inning through seven. The last couple I’ve had a slip.”
With a third of the Yankees opening day lineup now on the DL and another suffering with sore biceps, the Yankees really can't afford these kinds of starts.
On the Rays side of things, Wade Davis pitched well. In 5.2 innings he held the Yankees to just two runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out seven on his way to his fourth win of the year. The two Yankees runs off Davis came in the fourth on a sac fly by Francisco Cervelli, and in the sixth on a solo homer by Alex Rodriguez, his sixth of the year.
Down four runs heading into the later innings isn't insurmountable as we've learned over the last few days, but Yankees relievers made sure a comeback wouldn't happen. Boone Logan (Why is he still on this roster?) and Mark Melancon each allowed two runs in an ugly eighth inning that saw the Rays extend their lead to 10-2.
The Yankees would score four in the bottom of the ninth, but thanks to the work of the Yankees pen those runs were pretty meaningless.
Marcus Thames became the latest victim of the Yankees injury bug when he sprained his ankle stepping on his base as he ran to first base in the sixth. He's listed as day-to-day, and Girardi doesn't think he will have to go on the DL.
I mentioned earlier that it might be time to worry, and before you start thinking I'm basing that off three games you should know that I'm not. As Steve Lombardi pointed out tonight, over the last 26 games the Yankees are just 14-12, take out the 5-1 record against the pathetic Orioles and it turns into a very ugly 9-11. They've also lost their last 7 of 11. Whichever way you look at it, thing haven't gone to well for the Yanks lately. Injuries are obviously the main issue, as is the struggles of the bullpen, but .500 baseball won't fly with a $200 million payroll, regardless of injuries.
Luckily, the Yankees still hold on to the second best record in baseball and are only four games behind the Rays. The key for the Yankees right now is to weather the storm and stay within striking distance while they get healthy. For that to happen the players will have to step things up. Derek Jeter needs to start hitting. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have to reestablish themselves as one of the game's best 3-4 combinations. And most importantly, Joe Girardi must find a bullpen formula that works.
Andy Pettitte will have to be the stopper that he's been most of his career tomorrow when he takes on James Shields and the Rays tomorrow night in the Bronx. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. and the game will be on MY9.