(One of many not getting it done presently. Courtesy of The AP)
I'm not going to bother trying to tip toe around the facts, because we're all smart enough to know what they are. The Yankees are an absolute mess right now. They're 4-9 in their last 13 games, their division lead is down to just 1 game, they're in the middle of a 10-game stretch against the 2 teams closest to overtaking them for the AL East lead, and they're showing no signs of turning anything around. The roster is a jumbled mess of banged up superstars, old guys finally having their flaws exposed after being forced to play more than they should have earlier in the season, and middle-of-the-pack players turning in inconsistent performances, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the 1-9 lineup card that Joe fills out every day.
The Yankees started the month of August with a shrinking division lead and they finished August with a shrinking division lead, a lead that has shrunk down to practically nothing after their poor start to September. As bad as things have been, the Yankees actually did play above-.500 baseball in August with a 15-13 record, but that does little to distract from the team's rapidly-deteriorating margin for error. Plenty of players got hurt in August, continuing a trend that just won't go away, and those injuries appeared to finally catch up to the old Yankees this month, as the rest of the healthy troops couldn't rally to support their DL-stricken teammates. But as always, there were some good moments and good performances from some, and that's what these "best of the month" posts are al about. So forget about all the negativity and impending panic and just look back on the good times from last month.
(Once again, good but not great. Courtesy of The AP)
The Orioles are the closest threat to the Yankees' slim division lead after taking 2 of 3 over the weekend, but the Rays have been no slouch right behind them. Tampa isn't just playing for a Wild Card spot with their recent hot streak, they are very much in the discussion for the AL East crown and can make that discussion even more interesting with a series win over the stumbling, bumbling Bronx Bummers. The Yankees had the right man on the mound to put the breaks on their skid in CC Sabathia yesterday afternoon, and a recent whipping boy across the way in James Shields. A-Rod was back in the lineup,
- Tough start for CC. He got dinked and dunked to death in giving up an RBI single in the 2nd inning, then gave up a solo HR to B.J. Upton to start off the 3rd.
- After getting shut down the first time through the order, the Yankee lineup broke out for 3 runs off Shields in the top of the 4th. The big hits were a Robinson Cano double and a Raul Ibanez RBI triple with some infield hits sprinkled in, including A-Rod's first hit off the DL.
- The Rays manufactured a run on a double steal and an RBI groundout in the 5th to tie the game back up, but they wouldn't have been able to if CC hadn't given up a walk and a base hit to start the inning.
- As they've done time and time again, the Yankee offense went completely off the grid after their 1 big inning. Shields sat them down in order in the 5th and the 6th, and they wasted the 2 baserunners they did get in the 7th and 8th with immediate GIDPs.
- Sabathia was hardly the shutdown pitcher his team needed him to be yesterday, but he gave them a chance with 7 innings of 3-run ball. I was surprised to see Joe go to him to start the 7th, but with the kind of middle relief he's gotten lately, a tired CC is a way better option and CC came up with arguably his best inning of the game.
- D-Rob came in to hold a 3-3 game in the bottom of the 8th and promptly gave up a leadoff single. That one was erased by a nice call and great throw by Russell Martin to nail the pinch runner stealing, but Robertson did allow 2 more hits and steal after that to give Tampa the 1-run lead heading into the 9th.
- Joe played the bench game brilliantly in the 9th, pinch running Eduardo Nunez and getting a steal and pinch hitting Curtis Granderson for Martin against Rodney, but Granderson struck out and the division lead was down to 1.