Bombers Blast: The incredible shrinking Yankees lead
I’m just not seeing it. I’m not seeing the Yankees getting far into the postseason. In fact, the way they’ve been playing, they may just end up as the second wild card team … if they’re lucky. The injuries are obviously taking a toll on a club that’s not getting any younger. Not only did the Yankees lose a series where they played abysmal baseball against an abysmal Blue Jays team, but they also lost Mark Teixeira to a calf injury for at least two more series. One of those series is this weekend against Baltimore, which stands poised to make things very uncomfortable when it comes to the Yankees staying on top of the American League East. The following series is at Tampa, another team in perfect position to topple the Bombers.
The Yankees haven’t looked like the Yankees most of the second half. And for good reason: the injuries. They are putting out a roster comprised of bench players. You know who hit clean up on Tuesday night? Mean neither because I have never heard of Steve Pearce. Apparently he was traded from the Yankees farm system earlier in the season only to be put on the trash heap by the Astros (yes, the worst-record-in-baseball Astros). The mighty Yankees are so desperate for right-handed hitters in the wake of Alex Rodriguez’s broken hand and the recent injury to Tex that they went dumpster diving in Houston.
The trickle down of Teixeira’s injury is being felt in the field in the form of Es. Teixiera being out puts Nick Swisher at first base meaning that (shudder) Andruw “I lost it in the sun” Jones or (shudder, shudder) Raul Ibanez are back to playing the outfield. Swisher is a decent first baseman, but he’s never going to be as adept at digging those crappy Derek Jeter throws out of the dirt the way Tex can. On that note, you can say what you want about Jeter’s defense (and there’s certainly been far too many columns on that topic), but his bat is one of the few bright spots in a Yankees lineup that currently includes the likes of Jayson Nix along with Russell Martin and his .197 batting average.
The starting rotation hasn’t been very healthy either. Andy Pettitte fractured his ankle when he was hit by a comebacker in June. CC Sabathia has been on and off the DL with elbow injuries. And most recently the struggling Ivan Nova went down with rotator cuff inflammation. This has taxed what began as a solid bullpen. Even with the devastating loss of future-Hall-of-Fame closer Mariano Rivera and a DL stint by setup man David Robertson, the Yankee relievers were getting the job done. Now, the workload is getting to them as witnessed by some late-inning meltdowns.
As much as I love Joba Chamberlain, he is currently not the answer to the bullpen woes. Coming off Tommy John surgery and a horrible ankle injury that kept him off the mound for a good season and a half, Joba should really have had more time to rehab. He’s clearly not physically ready for high-pressure innings, and it’s not fair to put him in these situations.
I suppose we as Yankee fans should be happy that even with the litany of injuries this team has sustained, they have managed to stay in first place in the tough American League East. So, let’s enjoy it while it lasts because that lead could be long gone by next week.