However, Saturday and Sunday did not go according to that plan. The Mets got excellent performances from Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana and although their bullpen gave the Yankees a glimmer of hope in the late innings, the final two games of the series went to the team from Queens.
Outside of the two pitchers that picked up wins against the Bombers, the Mets rotation is in a state of disarray. Oliver Perez has been moved to the bullpen due to his ineffectiveness while John Maine and Jon Niese are both sidelined with injuries. It just so happened that the Yanks drew both of the Mets healthy and effective starters in a three game series and were on the losing end of two strong performances. It just seems like that's the way things are going for the Yanks as of late.
The Bombers have now dropped five of their last seven games and ten of the last 15. Even the excitement surrounding weekend's most notable bright spot, Vazquez, has to be tempered because he had to be taken from the game with an injury to his right index finger that he got while attempting to lay down a bunt. The Yankees pushed his bullpen session back until Tuesday and he is expected to make his regularly scheduled start against the Twins on Thursday. Still, there should be concern that the injury could affect his stuff when he takes the mound again.
While the Yankees were getting beaten by the Mets, the Red Sox and Rays both salvaged the last two games of their respective series, moving Tampa six games ahead of the Yankees and Boston just two and a half games back. Down in Philadelphia, the Sawx got eight shutout innings both from Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield in the final two games of the series to eek out a victory. The Rays did what they should have and came up with consecutive victories of 4-2 and 10-6 against the Astros.
No story of the Yankees current struggles would be complete without talking about the injuries they've suffered and for a while the bullpen was blowing every lead they got their hands on, but over the past week, their starting pitching has been the real culprit. The last time through the rotation, Burnett, Hughes, Pettitte and Sabathia have combined to give up 22 runs in 22 1/3 innings pitched.
Couple that with the fact that the Yanks are a combined 19-76 (.250) with runners in scoring position over the last seven games and went the entire series in Flushing without hitting a home run and you've got a recipe for a tough stretch of baseball.
As a frame of reference, the Yankees are still tied with the Twins for the second best record in the American League and have as many wins as any team in the NL, a testament mostly to how well they were playing early in the season. But between the bullpen implosions, the constant flow of injuries, the RISP struggles and the late inning comeback teases the last 15 games have been really tough to watch. Luckily, we know that none of those problems are going to last forever. It's just hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.
Today is the team's first scheduled off day in two and a half weeks and hopefully they can collect themselves before they head out to Minnesota for yet another tough series against the Twins.