Quietly - because they have taken and maintained the AL East lead in the process - the Yankees have lost seven of their last fourteen games. Aside from A.J. Burnett, their pitching has performed fairly well; it's the offense that's been the problem. After scoring 5.7 runs per game over their first 64 games of the year, the "Bombers" have managed to plate just 3.9 each time out over their last 14, putting them on the wrong side of the league average.
It's a small sample so it's not exactly cause for concern or reason to do something dumb like call up Jesus Montero (who isn't even hitting particularly well in AAA), but production is down across the board. The Yanks are still averaging about one home run per game and actually striking out somewhat less often that usual, but have collected about two fewer hits and one fewer walk over this more recent span. As a result, their slash line is .232/.302/.376 over the past two weeks, as compared to .280/.366/.448 from the beginning of the season until the can of whoop ass they opened up on Roy Halladay two Tuesdays ago.
While Brett Garnder, Derek Jeter and A-Rod all missed a game or two each over that time, aside from the "rehabbing" Nick Johnson, the lineup was mostly at full strength. What gives, then?
Simply put, the Yanks faced a lot of tough pitching recently. They got lucky to get to Roy Halladay, but Cliff Lee, Johan Santana and Clayton Kershaw are some of the most talented left handers in the game. Jamie Moyer and Hinsanori Takahashi are certainly not, but they both put together solid performances when they faced the Yanks. King Felix and Mike Pelfrey are two of the more overpowering young righties out there and the former most certainly was in his full glory on Wednesday night. Hiroki Kuroda isn't widely though of as a top-of-the-line pitcher, but he has a solid Major League track record.
It doesn't work out perfectly, so the Yanks beat some of the better pitchers (Dan Haren) they faced and lost a few of the marginal ones (Rodrigo Lopez), but those are the kind of things that pile up to form a slump. However, even if they break out of that funk in a big way today, a lot still depends on whether their starting pitcher can recover from five consecutive terrible starts.
A.J. Burnett looks to finally steer out of the month-long rough patch he's been in against his former team. Now that Dave Eiland has returned to the team and used his unparalleled expertise and rapport with A.J. to discover the problem that plagues pretty much every pitcher when they aren't throwing the ball well, perhaps it will finally come together for him.
Today will be the second of four consecutive day games for the Yankees, the longest such streak so far this season. So while they literally find themselves in the middle of some games where the sun is expected to be shining, hopefully things will get a bit brighter for Burnett and the Bombers' bats.
If I live till I die, will I be justly rewarded
If I sleep till I wake, will I remember the dream
If I lie to myself, will I have something to believe in
If I face my fears, will I know what they mean
Yankees: In roster news, Dustin Moseley has been called up from Scranton, lest the Yankees allow him to opt for free agency. He'll likely take Boone Logan's place, but the move isn't official yet.
Francisco Cervelli catches Burnett today, which should probably provide A.J. a little more leeway to find his curveball and probably save him a wild pitch/passed ball or two. A-Rod returns to third base and opens up the DH slot for Posada, who will bat 6th. Brett Gardner is back in the order for the second day in a row, the contusion on his wrist apparently a thing of the past.Blue Jays:
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner LF
Fred Lewis LF
Alex Gonzalez SS
Jose Bautista RF
Vernon Wells CF
Adam Lind DH
Aaron Hill 2B
Lyle Overbay 1B
John Buck C