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lunes, 10 de agosto de 2015
Yankees’ hitting woes will fade — but Blue Jays, Orioles won’t
Dioner Navarro and Mark Teixeira
For a while there, the Yankees sure did make the game seem a lot easier than it’s supposed to look, when grown men are throwing 95-mph baseballs at you that sink and dart and slide and slither. Across 10 games not long ago, they scored 90 runs. In one inning alone Tuesday night, against the Red Sox, they scored nine.
Crooked numbers are awesome.
“They don’t let you save them,” Mark Teixeira said Sunday afternoon, smiling.
This was inside a quiet Yankees clubhouse, another long day at the office in the books, the Blue Jays having just swept the weekend with a 2-0 whitewash of the Yankees, cutting their lead in the AL East to 1 ¹/₂ games (three in the loss column). That alone would be enough to keep the room respectfully quiet.
But it’s how they got swept aside that was as troubling as anything. Starting with that nine-run outburst Tuesday night, which broke open a close game, the Yankees have scored a total of four runs in five games and 41 innings.
“A bump in the road,” Teixeira said.
“Just one of those stretches,” Brian McCann said.
“Offenses go through this,” Joe Girardi said. “Even good offenses.”
The Yankees are a good offense. When you reach August, you’re no longer talking about small sample sizes, you’re talking about 110 games, and what we have seen, consistently, is an offense that clicks far more often than it doesn’t, that can be dynamic, that can slap a crooked number on you at any moment.
So the assumption, for now, has to be that this is an aberration, that a quirk of timing sent the Yankees up against two knuckleball pitchers in the space of three days, and also a couple of lefties, and also Marco Estrada, who on Sunday kept the Yankees off-balance all day, surrendered only three hits, and faced trouble only during a spate of wildness in the fourth inning, a situation he quickly rectified by inducing a double play from Carlos Beltran.
“We have a good offense,” Girardi said, and nobody expects the Yankees to limp along forever. They get a day to clear their heads then three days in Cleveland — where they’ll miss Corey Kluber, the AL’s defending Cy Young Award winner who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Sunday against the Twins — before trying to return serve at Toronto next weekend.
“They were in the race to begin with,” Teixeira said of the Jays, who are as scorching hot as a team can be, who are every bit what their run-differential says they ought to be, every bit as much as their Pythagorean won-loss record (a tidy 68-44) says they should be. “This was always going to be a hard-fought division.”
It just didn’t seem the other teams in the division had gotten that memo. Not as recently as the last week in July, when the Yankees seemed to be the only team in the East playing as if these games really counted. Now the Jays are right there. The Orioles are lurking. And what seemed as recently as a week ago to be a breezy jaunt to October is suddenly a little less care-free.
“You never assume it’s going to be easy,” Girardi said.
And so you must assume that this is a blip for the Yankees’ offense, partly because of overwhelming and compelling evidence, partly because to think otherwise invites way to many negative possibilities. If you were going to break down the Yankees’ strengths, after all, you start with the bullpen. But the offense is a close second.
Because the offense has been that good.
“You know you’re not going to score 13 runs every night,” Girardi had said in the wake of Tuesday’s game when they did just that, they scored 13 times, closing out a week that had started with a 21-run outburst and included a 12-run game and another 13-run game. He had said that with a chuckle.
The laughter was missing Sunday, when the Yankees were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since May 1999, a stretch of 2,665 games, which is a little staggering when you consider some of the offensively challenged teams the past few years. That won’t last. The crooked numbers will be back, which is a good thing. The Yankees are in a race now. They’re going to need them.