Los Angeles, CA
|The Yanks got knocked down in California|
Twenty years ago, if a Yankees skipper lost five games in a row, he'd be on the hot seat and prepared to get whacked because the ornery Boss would rather fire him on the spot than suffer the humiliation of a week-long losing streak
The Boss has been dead for sometime, and his kinder and gentler offspring do not run the Yankees organization like a hotheaded tyrant.That meant Joe Girardi, ensconced in a five-game losing streak, did not have to win Sunday's game against the Angels to save his job.
The Yankees had hit the skids in California after losing five straight. They saved face to win the last game of a grueling 10-game roadtrip and finished 4-6 on this run. They luckily did not lose too much ground on the first place Red Sox (40-29). The Yanks trail by three games but the way they played this week, they're fortunate to still be in the chase pack.
The Yankees (38-31) kicked off the West Coast swing with a dominating series in Seattle. They won three out of four games including a close shave against King Felix. The Yanks arrived in Oakland on an upswing, but were brutally swept by the A's, capped off by a nasty loss in an 18-inning marathon game to close out the series. The Yanks limped into SoCal hoping to bounce back against a struggling Angels squad. Alas, the Yanks out-stunk the Angels when they failed to hit once again. They dropped the first two games and pushed their losing mark to five games. CC stopped the bleeding on Father's Day and the Yanks departed California with just one win in the last week.
The Yanks faced a big test playing Oakland in Oakland. JoeSpeaker reminded me that the A's had the best record in baseball over the last 162 games, while the Yanks were surprisingly second.
The Yanks were down 6-1 in game one, but a late rally came up short and they lost 6-4. That's the most runs in a game they'd score all series. They barely put up a fight in the second game and lost 5-2.
The last game in Oakland was a "getaway" day game that went 18 innings. Kuroda pitched well enough to win (2 hits over 8 innings and only 2 ERs), yet the offense floundered once again. The game went into extra innings and the bats continued to stay silent (Tex, Youk, Bubba Wells, and Haffner went hitless in 28 at bats and they combined for 12 strikeouts). Long-man Adam Warren stepped up and he tossed six immaculate innings in relief, scattering four hits. Warren threw a season-high 85 pitches and eventually ran out of the gas. Girardi had a tough choice at the bottom of the 18th inning. He was down to three relievers: Mo Rivera, Preston Caliborne, and Joba Chamberlin. Girardi (and all of Yankees nation) lost faith in Joba, who has been in the doghouse ever since his spat with Mo Rivera in KC last month. Girardi opted for Claiborne, who got into a quick jam. Girardi had no choice but to call on Mo to put out the fire. Alas, Mo did not pitch well and the A's won the game in the bottom of the 18th. Heartbreaker. That 3-2 loss was the longest Yanks game in a decade. The Yanks had a chance to save face and leave Oakland on a high note, but they got swept.
The Yanks headed down the coast to take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Two more ugly games. The bats went silent again. Then again if you looked at the lineup Girardi put out there, almost half the team started the season in the minors. Seriously, who the hell is Thomas Neal? Or Reid Brignac?
On Sunday, the dormant offense finally woke up against Weaver, who pitched a rare bad outing against the Yanks. Haffner connected on breaking ball that didn't break. If this game was at Yankee Stadium, that shot is probably an warning track out in left-center Death Valley. Alas, in Anaheim... it's a 3-run home run. That blast put the Yanks ahead. They were up 6-0 in the ninth, but CC/Roberston/Mo almost blew it. They avoid disaster and held on to a 6-5 win. Another close call.
The Yanks looked good at the start of the road trip but their lack of power hitting continues to be a huge issue. They only scored 30 runs on the road trip Easy math... the Yanks averaged 3 runs a game, but they gave up 3.7 runs a game. They Yanks pitching staff has been above average all season, but their offense woes seem to be getting worse and worse. Cano hasn't been driving in runs. Bubba Wells is ice cold. Youk had a bad back. Tex had not contributed anything at the plate since his return from the DL, and he left Saturday's game with a wrist injury.
On Deck: The Yanks have Monday off before action resumes in the Bronx for a 9-game homestand. They open up with a 2-game series against the last-place L.A. Dodgers (this is their first trip to the Stadium since interleague began). Then over the weekend, they host a four-game series against Tampa (36-33).
This week's pitching match-up...
vs. L.A. Dodgers
6/18 Ryu vs. Hughes
6/19 Capuano vs Kuroda
vs. Tampa Bay
6/20 Moore vs Pettitte
6/21 ???? vs Phelps
6/22 Hernandez vs CC
6/23 Archer vs Hughes
Pauly is the author of Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker.