‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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April may be the cruelest month for the general population, but for those wearing Yankees pinstripes May hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns, either.
And it’s not just because of the rickety pitching that was low-lighted Wednesday night by Hiroki Kuroda’s worst outing of the season.
They’re not getting consistent hitting, either.
Thanks to last night’s 4-1 loss in Toronto, the Yanks have a 7-9 record so far in May and have lost four of their last five. And their hitting with men in scoring position has been atrocious in those losses. Along with the 0-for-8 they went in the RSIP column last night, they are just 3 for 60 in the nine losses for an .050 BA. The Yanks quite simply haven’t been themselves, and none of it has to do with Joe Girardi’s Wednesday decision to rest Derek Jeter. Mark Teixiera, generally a slow starter, actually had a fair April and hit .244. His May average sits at .203 right now.
He and Nick Swisher are hitting .220 each with men in scoring position. And powerful Curtis Granderson is hitting all of .226 in that situation. Not exactly what you’re looking for from three guys in the heart of your lineup.
And lest anyone think that Alex Rodriguez has been a lone bright spot, his .176 RISP average sits at the bottom of the regulars.
The whole squad is hitting just .240 with runners in scoring position, good for a No. 17 ranking among Major League clubs.
No, these are not the same Yankees who finished sixth last year with a .273 BA and 49 homers when they placed runners in threatening positions.
Not that Girardi would pay attention to that other team across town, but if he did it would certainly irk him that the Mets’ lineup, littered with relative inexperience, is ranked seven places above his squad, in 10th, at .262. They’ve been winning games by being opportunistic, a quality the Yanks appear to have suddenly forgotten.
The Mets’ 21-17 record after beating the Reds 9-4 last night actually is one game better than the Yanks‘ 20-18 mark. But the Mets don’t have Rodriguez, Teixiera, and Robbie Cano to go along with their Core Four campaigner Derek Jeter in their lineup. They have Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Ike Davis, and Daniel Murphy complementing their franchise face, David Wright.
Girardi said he’s not particularly worried about the offense, and he probably shouldn’t be. There’s a lot of baseball to be played, a lot of ups and downs left in the season.
But if the Yanks expect to put together a healthy string of wins, they’ll first have to get their offense in order. At least to counteract the still-erratic starting rotation and a bullpen reshuffled in the wake of the injuries to closers Mariano Rivera and David Robertson.
Catcher Russell Martin probably said it best after Wednesday’s 8-1 disaster when he said the hitters were trying to smack a three-run homer with nobody on.
More selectivity, some swing adjustments to reflect a more conservative approach at the plate, is what the Yanks need right now. When a team is struggling like this, opportune strikes through a single with runners on second and third, not home runs.
That will get the Yanks out of their rut.
Will the Yankees bust out of their slump in a big way this weekend? Sound off below!