Yankees Stumble Out West
By Rich Bauer
The New York Yankees have hit the June swoon. What is that? In the baseball world it is the point in the season when there are less than 100 games left, the weather heats up, days off are few and far in between and you can no longer use the excuse that it is early in the season to rationalize negatives. The negatives have hit the Yanks good on their round trip to the left coast this past week. Can anyone remember the last time they have had a good trip out west?
The American League’s other top team, the Houston Astros, has stumbled of late also. Having played .667 baseball to date, they have lost 7 out of 11. The Yanks have lost 6 out of 12 and their losing streak is now up to six games. Making it tougher to swallow is that they have lost to the lowly Angels and A’s.
It all started with pitchers CC Sabathia (shoulder) and Adam Warren (shoulder) going on the DL. Then Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino could not get out of the 5th and 6th innings, respectively, and hurt the team with early deficits of 4-0. What I did like, though, was the way the Yanks fought back to tie the games and take leads but with a shorthanded bullpen they could not hold the leads, ultimately losing some high scoring affairs. Unfortunately new minor league call ups Jonathan Holder and Giovanni Gallegos did not make the most of their opportunities unlike Austin Romaine and Ronald Torreyes who have stepped up big time when called upon. Also, I am liking Domingo German more and more. In two outings, German has pitched 6 innings with 7 Ks and an ERA of 0.00. And to me that is what injuries are about, not excuses, but chances for others to step up and show what they can do.
“Every team is going to have these”, manager Joe Girardi said after one of the recent frustrating losses. “I’m pleased with the way we keep fighting back, and that will bode well during the course of the season. Right now our bullpen’s in a little bit of disarray. We’ll get it straightened out, and we will be fine.”
Then the Yanks lose two of their hottest hitters to little nagging injuries. Aaron Hicks has missed the last three games with an Achilles injury and Yankees have missed his .413 on base percentage. Gary Sanchez (11 HRs, 33 RBIs) returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing the previous two with a groin injury. In addition, Aaron Judge has seen his batting average dip 10 points or so and his strikeouts go up, Bret Gardner’s power surge is gone for now, and the baseball gods chip in with a ball that just glances off Starlin Castro’s glove resulting in one of the losses. Castro and Didi Gregarious have fought thru the swoon and still are batting .328 and .326 respectively but for the first time this season the Yanks as a team find themselves treading water.
Up to this time in the season the Yanks have had only to deal with sub par performances by Masahiro Tanaka, Chris Carter and Chase Headley. And don’t be surprised that a little pressure is mounting as the Red Sox are nipping at their heels only one game behind in the lost column.
The best part of road trips is that they come to an end. The team is back in the Bronx Tuesday for a six-game home stand playing the Angels and Texas Rangers. I am sure the friendly confines in the Bronx will help right the ship as the Yankees lead the AL not just in home runs but attendance of 38,536 per game. Also the YES Network ratings are back to the levels when the Core Four were battling through June swoons.
I say to Yankee fans don’t let the swoon get you down, don’t waiver on our long term plans, stay the course. Sure it is about winning and winning now but let’s not get greedy, foolish and panic. We need to stick with what got us here to begin with.
I hope Girardi is echoing these words on the plane ride home.
photos: latimes.com (Wild West); nj.com (Adam Warren); newsday.com (Joe Girardi)