The Yankees returned from the All-Star Break in fourth place in the standings and somewhere around eleventy-th place in our hearts. The first-place Red Sox, palpably better than the Yankees a la 2008 or 1916, took the first game of this three-game series playing it close at 4-2 but without breaking a sweat.
Andy Pettitte pitched into the seventh and put himself in great shape for a win in any other year of his Yankee career, but allowing four runs in front of the 2013 Yankees is a death sentence. And though the bullpen did cough up that last run for Andy, his performance, marred by two early homers, was nothing special.
The Yankee lineup, weak as a kitten under normal circumstances, lost outfielders Zoilo Almonte (hurt ankle) and Brett Gardner (hurt feelings) mid-game to drop them to Threat Level Koala. Let’s put it this way – in the crucial eighth inning, the Yankees had the tying runs in scoring position, two outs, and Luis Cruz, who was released earlier this year by the Dodgers for failing to be a better hitter than any of their pitchers, was allowed to bat for himself.
The season will likely slip away from the Yankees in the next few weeks as they face superior competition on the road. They have one asset that might bring back a meaningful player for their future and that’s Robinson Cano. But will whatever they get back for Cano be better than just signing the best second baseman in baseball to a long term deal? If the Yankees want to keep Cano long term, then they become buyers, but with a long, non-2013, view. And that allows them more flexibility and less urgency at the deadline.
I hate contemplating the end of the season at the break but the team is filled with bad players playing badly. Ichiro, who has been much maligned, is the third best offensive player on the team. Derek Jeter crawled back into his Bacta Tank and I saw Curtis Granderson’s face on a milk carton this morning.
Alex Rodriguez is reported to be coming back though, so the good news is that, finally, we’ll have somebody to blame for all of this.