Yankees bats silenced against Indians as they head to Baltimore

By Rich Mancuso

 Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two-out ninth inning solo home run in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium Sunday afternoon.  That was the first run scored by the New York Yankees since a five-run sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians Friday night. The 19-consecuitve scoreless innings are a part of the reason the Indians took two of three this weekend in the Bronx.

The Yankees, after a depressing 4-1 loss packed their bags and departed for a three game series starting tomorrow night at division leading Baltimore. A crucial series, perhaps if the Yankees have any chance to overtake the Orioles for the Al East crown. More importantly, the Yankees, with anemic bats again don’t want to lose any ground in the tight wild card race that now has them trailing by 2/1-2 games and having to bypass Seattle and Toronto.

“Obviously got a big series starting tomorrow,” manager Joe Girardi said. “This is just one of those days.”  However it seems this is a recurring theme of the season played often by the Yankees and his team, another game where sustaining any type of rally off the opposing starter and bullpen was a mission in futility.

And, yes another one of those days for the Yankees.

 Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, making his first start since April 25th, snapped a 17-game winless stretch, his last win coming June 29 of the 2011 season against Arizona.  Carrasco allowed the Yankees two base runners in his five innings of work. Ellsbury got a single in the first and Stephen Drew a single in the second.

Carrasco, (4-4) learned a lot spending time in the bullpen over the past few months after going there in April. He threw strikes, had a nasty changeup and got ahead in the count which worked against the anemic Yankees bats. He broke a 17-game losing skid and may get another start, because the Indians are going to need this type of pitching if they want to have another good stretch run and play post season baseball in October.

“When you play the Yankees, you feel it in your body," he said. "You want to throw a shutout." Just when you see the Yankees get their offense going, as they did again Friday night, scoring 10-runs, this was no time for their bats to go dormant again. Mark Teixeira was in the lineup again with a bad pinky finger and Brian McCann spent another day on the 7-day concussion list, so some of the offense was taking a hit.

But the new additions, Martin Prado and Stephen Drew went a combined 1-for-6.  Carlos Beltran who seemed to offer some punch was no better, with a 0-for-3 day.  This time of year, when the objective is to win as many series as you can, losing two out of three from a team chasing you in the wild card hunt, well that also left a sting for the Yankees as they left town 61-56 and six games away from the Orioles.

Five hits Sunday for the Yankees.  And they were victims of 15- strikeouts Saturday afternoon, a season high in their 3-0 shutout loss. True, the Indians are one of the teams trying to chase the Yankees in that tight second American League wild card race. And the way they have pitched, and hit the past two days, it so much resembles their September run to the wild card last September.

“Anytime you can take two from a team that is ahead of you in the wild card that’s a good feeling,” Mike Aviles said. The Indians’ infielder who played a good portion of his youth baseball at the Bronxchester Little League said, “Carrasco threw his strikes and was pitching out of the pen and that is always a plus.”  

Again there was also no come from behind victory Sunday. Since July 20th, the Yankees have come from behind and won 10-out of their last 12 that way. Hiroki Kuroda made it difficult on the mound. Not one of his better starts, 4.2 innings and three runs. His four walks matched a season high.

“We’re just not scoring runs,” Girardi said. That is a comment heard too many times this season, though another recurring theme of this Yankees 2014 season that may be getting crucial with a visit to Camden Yards the next few nights.  

“Baltimore,” said Girardi, “This is a team we’re chasing. A very important series and we have to play extremely well because they’ve been hot lately and scoring runs.” And they are scoring a ton more runs than his team, and quickly widening the gap between the Yankees and Blue Jays in the division.

Teixeira put it in perspective, saying, "We haven't been great all year. We need to pick it up a little bit.” And that has to begin Monday night, if not the wild card race gets more difficult. Missing the post season a second straight year will be more realistic even with 10 of their remaining 45 games against the Orioles if the silent bats the past few days don’t get busy again.

“All we can do is go out there and play hard,” Ellsbury commented about the series with Baltimore.  “Hopefully we can get out there and string some good bats together and take some pressure off the pitchers.”

That is well said. But the newest additions to the team need to do their part. So does Beltran, and if Teixeira is still struggling with that finger, well this team that went out and spent over $450 million in players this off-season could see a season coming to an abrupt  and unhappy ending.

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