Monday, July 1, 2013

Is There Offense On Mars?

The New York Yankees have played 81 games.  They are exactly halfway through the season.

They are 42-39, only 3 games over .500.  They are 6 1/2 games -- 5 in the loss column -- out of first place in the American League East.  They are 3 1/2 games out of the 2nd Wild Card spot.

No, it's not 1982, as many people feared when they say the injuries, and the players that general manager Brian Cashman got to replace them.  Or 1965, when the previous dynasty collapsed.  But it is looking a lot like 1959, when the Yankees fell from postseason play to be just over .500 and not really in the race.

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The Yankees played the Baltimore Orioles this weekend, 3 games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  On Friday night, CC Sabathia took a perfect game into the 6th inning.  But both John Sterling on the radio and Michael Kay on TV repeatedly used the N-word.  No, not THAT N-word, not the one that got Paula Deen in trouble.  I mean the word you're not supposed to say while the kind of game it's describing is in progress, for fear of jinxing it: "No-hitter."

(Author John Thorn, now the Official Historian of Major League Baseball, wrote a book for children, Baseball's 10 Greatest Games, and one was Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.  While discussing that game, Thorn said that, while "no-hitter" was a taboo word, the words "perfect game" do not carry the same stigma; they can be spoken aloud without jinxing the pitcher.)

The bottom of the 6th went like this: Nate McLouth singled; Alexi Casilla hit a weak grounder that CC could not field in time, resulting in an infield hit; Nick Markakis popped up; Manny Machado doubled home both runners; J.J. Hardy flew out; and Adam Jones singled home Machado.  Before the jinx came down on CC, the Yankees led 2-0; after it, it was 3-2 Orioles.  The O's added another run in the 7th, to make it a 4-2 final.

WP: Kevin Gausman (1-3).  SV: Tommy Hunter (2).  LP: Sabathia (8-6).

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I originally wanted to go to the Saturday night game in Baltimore.  But I saw the weather reports and said forget it: No way was I going to wait until I was down there, at the box office, to buy a ticket, risking a sellout, and having come all that way to see no game; and no way was I going to order my game & bus tickets online, spending unrefundable money, and risk going down there and getting rained out.  Indeed, even going into Friday, the weather forecast suggested that there would be thunderstorms all 3 days.

I wish the Saturday game had been rained out.  I'm certainly glad I didn't go.  The Orioles pounded David Phelps for 4 runs int he 1st inning, and 5 more in the 3rd.

The Yankees were never in this one.  They ended up getting 11 hits in the game, and Ivan Nova pitched 5 2/3 innings of relief, doing very well.  And it didn't matter.

Orioles 11, Yankees 3.  WP: Zach Britton (2-2).  No save.  LP: Phelps (5-5).

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So, yesterday, the Yankees needed a win badly.  They needed to get behind their starter, Hiroki Kuroda, and give him the runs he needed.

What was it David Bowie sang? "But the film is a saddening bore.  'Cause she's lived it ten times or more!"

Six hits.  RISPfail: 0-for-6.  Robinson Cano hit a solo homer, his 17th of the season, and got another hit.  Lyle Overbay doubled, but got stranded.  Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4, and so did Brett Gardner; Ichiro stranded 5 runners, Gardner 4.

Orioles 4, Yankees 2.  WP: Chris Tillman (10-2)  SV: Jim Johnson (28).  LP: Kuroda (7-6).

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Through April and May, Cashman's overage destroyers were defying all projections.  In June, that stoped.

OPS's:

Austin Romine: .352.
Mark Teixeira: .609 and now injured.  Again.  Probably for the season.
Vernon Wells: .627.
Chris Stewart: .663.
Kevin Youkilis: .648 and now injured.  Again.
Ichiro Suzuki: .674.
Lyle Overbay: .714.
Curtis Granderson: .715 and now injured.  Again.
Travis Hafner: .756.

Only 4 players have an OPS of over .800.  One of those, Francisco Cervelli, is injured.  Another, Zoilo Almonte, is a new arrival, and is one of the few guys getting it done lately.  Another is Brennan Boesch, who hasn't been put into the lineup much lately.  The other is Robinson Cano, who, without Teix or the still-injured Alex Rodriguez, isn't getting much protection in the lineup.  And, of course, Derek Jeter is still hurt, and hasn't made an appearance this season.

The pitchers carried us for much of the season, but they can't if they're not getting run support.  The Yankees have scored 310 runs so far, but allowed 326.  That's an average score of Opponents 4.0, Yankees 3.7.  That's not good enough.

The Yankees are doing roughly what they did in 1971 -- scored 648, allowed 641 -- when David Bowie released the song I quoted above, "Life On Mars?"

Take a look at the Cashman, signing up the wrong guy.  Oh man, I wonder if he'll ever know.  It's the freakiest show.

The Yankees start a 4-game series tonight, in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Twins.  Then it's back home for 3 against these same Orioles.

Then, mercifully, the All-Star Break.

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