Just two weeks ago the Yankees were the surprise story of the 2013 season as they defied all odds and expectations and put together one of the best records in baseball, injuries be damned. Suddenly they’ve lost seven of their eight games and nine of their last twelve, and there could be any number of reasons for the slide.
This could be a simple regression to the mean. There’s no way a team can sustain injuries to Alex Rodríguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, and Andy Pettitte — not to mention Francisco Cervelli, Eduardo Nuñez, Joba Chamberlain, and Chris Stewart — and expect to be competitive for 162 games. If you believe this theory, then you believe the collapse was due.
Or this could be a case of a team relaxing when it shouldn’t. After pedaling so hard for so long to keep things going while they waited for those injured players to get healthy, there would have to be a tendency to relax once some of the marquee names started coming back. But if you looked at the lineup that Joe Girardi sent out on Sunday night, you saw a nine that wouldn’t strike fear into the average American League pitcher. When the opposition is sending an elite pitcher to the mound, as the Red Sox were in Clay Buchholz, well, things can get ugly.
Hiroki Kuroda has been the most consistent Yankee starter over the past two seasons, and early on he appeared to be equal to the challenge of facing Boston’s ace as he cruised through the first three innings before finding trouble in the fourth. The Red Sox come up with something new every year, which is nice of them, so my feelings for them don’t get stale, and this year’s gimmick is the beard. Ryan Gomes, Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, and Dustin Pedroia are all sporting them, probably as some type of Brony ritual. Anyway, the beards came out in force in the top of the fourth as Pedroia singled to lead off the inning, went to third on a single by David Ortíz, then scored on soft groundout from Napoli.
The Yankee offense was already done for the night, having notched a single from Ichiro in the second and another from Austin Romine in the third, so it didn’t really matter that José Iglesias homered in the fifth and Big Papi hit one in the sixth. (It might matter that Ortíz posed a bit after his blast, making with his signature bat toss, then pointing into the Boston dugout as he rounded third. Why he gets away with this shit, I’ll never know. I don’t hate Ortíz, but I hate that people think it’s okay for him to act like a jackass.)
And really, that was about it. The rains came two batters after Ortíz, forcing a long rain delay. Boone Logan took the mound when the tarp came off, but the rain came back after four minutes and that was that. Red Sox 3, Yankees 0. (One interesting note. After Logan got the final out of the top of the sixth, Andrew Miller jogged onto the field to take over for Buchholz. But since the game was called before he was able to throw a pitch, he only gets credit for a game played, not a game pitched, and Buchholz gets credit for a complete game and, I assume, a shutout.)
So where do the Yankees go from here? In just a week they’ve gone from first place to a tie for third, and there’s a certain air of desperation in the Bronx. The Cleveland Indians come to town tonight, and they might be just what the doctor ordered. The Yanks have beaten them three out of four games this season, outscoring them 32-8 in the process. It sure would be nice to see the Score Truck show up on Monday night.
[Photo Credit: Kathy Willens/AP]