(At least Ichiro had something to smile about. Courtesy of Getty Images)
It's been slowly bubbling beneath the surface for the last 2 weeks, started to rise on Sunday night after the second straight not-quite-comeback loss to Bahhston, and can completely surface after another loss in similar fashion last night. That "it" is the fact that the Yankees aren't playing good baseball right now. They aren't getting great start pitching, they aren't getting timely hits, and their bullpen work has been uneven at best. They're 3-8 in their last 11 games and things have become more of a struggle since A-Rod went on the DL. They're doing just enough to stay in games, but not enough to win them, and it's frustrating. More potential injury problems to key members of the lineup only adds to the frustration.
- Eric Chavez put the Yankees on the board first with an RBI single in the bottom of the 2nd. Gonzalez helped the cause by balking Raul Ibanez to second with 2 outs, but give Ibanez credit for scoring from second; seems like the Yanks haven't been doing enough of that lately.
- Garcia worked easily through the 1st, but after that he started to get hit hard and hit often. He gave up a double to Adam Jones to lead off the top of the 2nd, a HR to Wilson Betemit to lead off the 3rd, 2 more hits in that inning and in the 4th, and only a trio of double plays prevented the damage from being worse.
- Ironically enough, it was a pair of sac flies that gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead in the 5th. But they came after Garcia gave up 2 hits to start the inning. He just wasn't hitting his spots and wasn't fooling anybody with his stuff.
- Ibanez scored the Yankees' first run in the 2nd inning, and he scored their 2nd in the 5th. Didn't have to hustle too hard for that one, though, as he smacked another HR to right to make it 3-2.
- Boone Logan hadn't pitched since last Tuesday, and had only faced 4 batters in the last 10 days, and it showed after he struck out the first 2 batters relieving Garcia in the 7th. Logan completely fell apart, walking Omar Quintanilla, giving up an RBI double to Nick Markakis, and having another run charged to him when David Phelps came in and gave up a single to J.J. Hardy.
- The real news on that play was Mark Teixiera leaving after making a diving attempt at Hardy's single. He was shaking his left hand after the play and although X-rays were negative after the game, Joe didn't sound optimistic in his postgame comments.
- Chavez answered right back in the bottom half with a solo HR and his 2nd RBI of the night to make it 5-3. And then Ichiro followed that up with his first career Yankee homer to make it 5-4. At least the bottom of the order was nice enough to show up last night.
- After Joe almost overmanaged his bullpen into more late-game innings allowed, the Yankees had a great chance for a 9th-inning comeback after Nick Swisher led off with a ground rule double. But the bottom of the order, who had been the only source of offense all night, couldn't get it done and the streak of mediocrity continues.
- Ibanez: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 K, LOB. It's tough for me to get on Raul for striking out in his last 2 at-bats when he was one of the only sources of offense all night. He might have to get ready for more OF duty now too.
- Chavez: 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB. Speaking of extra duty, I know Joe was hesitant to make Chavez the everyday third baseman in A-Rod's absence, but he might have to play Chavez more if Teix is going to miss time.
- The "Heart" of the order: C-Grand, Teix, Cano, and Swish combined 1-15, 1 2B, 7 K, 6 LOB. Teix gets a bit of a pass for coming into the game with a hurt wrist from Sunday night, and his 0-3 with 3 Ks makes me believe that's truthful, but there's just no excuse for this type of performance from the run-producing spots in the lineup. Ichiro should never be driving in more runs than these 4 combined in any game.
We'll all wait for the news from Teix's MRI today hope that it's not TOO bad, and then I guess we'll hope that the remaining healthy members of the lineup can figure their shit out and try to get a win to turn this sluggish streak around. Ivan Nova gets the start tonight against Chris Tillman.