First of six games Yankees need goes the wrong way

By Rich Mancuso

A six game home stand for the New York Yankees did not get off to a good start Tuesday night in the Bronx. The first three against a scrappy but bad Houston Astros team and three more with the Chicago White Sox are winnable games. And every game at this point for the Yankees is important.

But, as it has been this entire season, the Yankees could not get a win they needed. There are two more with the Astros, but the bullpen imploded again and the bats were in customary form, silent again as the Yankees went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position in a 7-4 loss. With the exception of a Brian McCann two-run home run in the fourth inning, the reality is another step back, instead of going forward for the Yankees in this stretch run for a post season wild card.

And once again the manager Joe Girardi, who said these were an important six games, had a recurring statement. “Thought we hit the ball well but not in situations,” he said. This time of year and not scoring five runs in eight straight games, does not help the situation.

It’s been a season problem as the Yankees have been held to four runs or fewer in 80 of their 123 games.

Forget the fact that the Astros are where they are, sitting as one of the two worse teams in the American League to the Texas Rangers. The Yankees have a favorable schedule this week to make some noise in this wild card chase, and it is off to a bad start. When they take the field Wednesday night for game two of this three game series with Houston, the deficit is four games.

Not a good situation. And when the closer, David Robertson issued two walks and gave up a three-run home run to Chris Carter in the ninth inning, that led the Astros to their win, there is no second guessing of the manager. The Yankees bullpen, with the exception of Dellin Betances has also decided to implode at the wrong time.  

“I tried to make a good pitch, down and away," Robertson said, "Instead I put it right in his bat path and he put it 30 rows deep." The ball went deep to left after Carter got the green light on a 3-0 count and went after a cutter that was in the middle of the plate.  There are no excuses, except that Robertson is no Mariano Rivera, as much as he has been dependable most of the time in tight situations.

Said Girardi about Robertson, who allowed his first home run since June 1, “He has been really, really good. I think he has been as good as anyone could've expected. I've talked about the pressure that was on him, who he was replacing. He has come in and done a marvelous job."

But these are the games that the Yankees have confronted all season and Robertson is not the great Mariano Rivera, and the Yankees know time is not on their side. Every game, with six weeks remaining has become crucial and they all they have to do is put the blame on themselves.

“When we came together in spring training, we expected to have a little more thunder," Mark Teixeira said in a once again quiet Yankees post game clubhouse. The thunder once again did not come from Carlos Beltran, 0-for-3 and a walk. The only productive night came from Jacoby Ellsbury with three hits.  But he could not come home with the score tied in the eighth when the Yankees played small ball.

Ellsbury opened the inning with a single deep by the bag at second base. He advanced on a steal and went to third on a throwing error. But, he was stranded that led to the Astros big and deciding ninth inning. The Martin Prado one-out double to left in the sixth tied the game at 4-4. That got starter Chris Capuano off the hook after he tossed 5.1 innings on eight hits, and striking out eight.

Not much more to say, except the Yankees know what has to be done this week. They need to win at least two of three from the Astros and White Sox, except that may be asking for the impossible because it has been that type of season.

However, if the hits don’t come the task gets that much more difficult.

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