Don’t worry New York Yankees fans because it is a matter of a day or two when the wildcard postseason spot is secured. But first the Yankees have to take care of business and they have not looked like a postseason bound team the past two nights in the Bronx against the Boston Red Sox.
Either the Red Sox are having their best month of the season, and they are. Or the Yankees with their 10-4 loss Tuesday night don’t appear to be a playoff ready team. Take the latter because this late in the game the Yankees are not resembling a team of the first half that got them to be where they are.
Blame the pitching for this latest loss. And when starter Michael Pineda gave up six runs in the first inning, that is part of the cause, though manager Joe Girardi won’t be sending the inconsistent righthander to the mound next Tuesday night in the wild card elimination game.
That task looks more likely is for Masahiro Tanaka who gets a final start wednesday night, and that gives New York their best opportunity to win and advance to the ALDS. But there are other issues also, and Girardi in these final five games will look at options to get the offense going.
One thing is certain about Alex Rodriguez. The 40-year old swing is not there, and the once thought about American League Comeback Player is in a horrendous slump. Boston starter Rick Porcello with his season high 8-innings got A-Rod to strike out twice. Rodriguez went 0-for-4 and he had trouble connecting on the 93- mile fastballs thrown by Porcello.
“I just stunk today,” Rodriguez said with a smile after the game. He was being honest and to the point again, in his season of getting to the truth and not hiding behind the curtain. Since August 1st, Rodriguez is hitting .185, with eight home runs and 24 RBI, and that is quite a difference from a first half and into the end of July.
The Yankees offense at one point, and a lot attributed to A-Rod, has not scored many runs and without A-Rod supplying the punch, it is obvious something may have to be done in these final games, even though he has 32 home runs and knocked in 85 runs.
And it is a matter of the Yankees not being able to handle a lefthander on the mound, though Porcelllo, a righty gave them an opportunity. Not, though with A-Rod, because the long season may have taken a toll, and he will be the first one to admit the Yankees are in good position but he has to get better at bats.
“We just have to take a deep breath and come back and win a game tomorrow,” he said. “I like where we are at.” And then A-Rod did what he does best by analyzing what has gone wrong, at the most important juncture of this long baseball season.
“Obviously,” he said, “It is important for me to swing the bat well. There is no question about it. The senior guys in this room, we have to make sure that we come out and stay relaxed and play good Yankee baseball. Part of that is me swinging the bat well.”
Well, A-Rod is just a part of it. Greg Bird, the rookie, may be pressing after a 1-for-4 night. He also had trouble with the Porcello fastball and has been pressed into an everyday job at first base with Mark Teixeira out for the season. Girardi is looking at putting catcher John Ryan Murphy at first against left handed pitching.
But it is the A-Rod offense that is so important to this lineup, and right now there is not much time left to get him going again. And with that Tuesday evening wild card elimination game quickly approaching, the bat of A-Rod is vital. More so, if Tanaka is not effective, and if the Yankees have to come from behind, they need the bat of A-Rod to be effective.
Rodriguez said, Porcello dominated him the entire night but it was the sinker and not the fastball. “I didn’t feel really good,” he said. But those in the press box, and the scouts who know the game, were quick to say that this time of year a 40-year old playing the entire season will have difficulty catching up with an effective fastball.
What he did so well to help carry this team was hit in the clutch. Tuesday night with two runners on in the first, Rodriguez struck out. And in the fifth inning he grounded into a double play with no out.
And because Alex Rodriguez has become the spokesperson this season for his team, he was quick to say about the inevitable wild card clincher: “Everyone is anticipating. It is just important to take it one day at a time and one bat at a time. We have been doing that all year.”
He added, “Nothing is going to be easy. We just have to come back and play good Yankee baseball and we will.” However it has not been good Yankees baseball as of late and the home run ball has also been hard to find. The Yankees have been built to hit the ball out of the park, and with the exception of a first inning home run from Dustin Ackley, that was it.
More of a concern, after a four- run first inning that put the Yankees quickly back in the game. Porcello and Jean Machi held the Yankees scoreless. It was the second straight game where they scored runs and were shutout along the way.
Pineda was able to settle down and keep the Yankees in the game and that was the one positive that Girardi was able to pinpoint. But getting those two wins for the wildcard these past two nights is becoming an eternity.
“This is their playoff and they want to make an impact and we would be the same way playing against them,” said Rodriguez about the Red Sox. But the Yankees have a big game to play Tuesday night and the Red Sox are going home, and this is no time for A-Rod or the offense to be non existent.
Girardi said his team is getting good at bats, and attributes the outstanding Red Sox outfield for making the outs. But it all comes down to the offense, and with A-Rod going sour that could mean one game next week and go home for the Yankees.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso