In April, I didn’t get too frustrated because, well, it’s April. But now, we’re a fifth of the way through the season. We shouldn’t still be waiting for this team to climb out of the offensive funk they started the season in.
Now, I find myself getting more and more upset come 10:00 pm nearly every weeknight. At best, watching a game results in a nervous and angry sigh of relief. At worst, a game ends with me doing my best Ozzie Guillen impression and ripping off an expletive laced rant while throwing my keys across the room. This team is clearly struggling right now and struggling mightily.
Yes, the Yankees are still over .500, they are second in the majors in home runs and sixth in the league in runs per game, but I ask you this. How many times over the last three weeks have you said to yourself during or after a Yankees game, “Man, the Yankees offense is really running on all cylinders right now!”? If you have uttered such a line since the calendar flipped, you’re not watching the right AL East team. The biggest problem isn’t our troublesome starting pitching or our sudden lack of bullpen depth, it’s our simple ineptitude when hitting with runners in scoring position.
If I asked you which Yankee has the highest average (minimum of ten at bats) with runners in scoring position as of May 16, who would you guess? It’s not Derek Jeter, even though he’s hitting an even .300. It’s not Ibanez, Granderson or even Cano. It isn’t even a starter. The answer is Chris Stewart. Chris. Fricken. Stewart. In 13 at bats, he has four hits, resulting in a .308 average. Outside of Stewart, Jeter and Raul Ibanez (.300), only Andruw Jones, with his .273 average is hitting over .230. Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira are all hovering in the low .200’s while Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez are hitting a putrid .182 and .176 with runners in scoring position respectively. In 28 combined at bats, the corpses of Russell Martin and Eric Chavez have three hits, all three belonging to Chavez. Including Thursday night’s loss at Toronto where the Yankees went 0-8 with runners in scoring position, the team as a whole is just three for its last 41. THREE HITS! That’s an .073 average! The word abysmal doesn’t even begin to describe this baseball atrocity. RISPFAIL at its finest.
If the Yankees were hitting 100 points higher over their last 41 at-bats with runners in scoring position (yes, they would still be hitting a tragic .173), then it’s very possible we would be looking at a 23-15 team instead of a 20-18 one. Hell, I can think of multiple games just off the top of my head that the Yankees would have won if they just picked up one or two clutch hits, the Andy Pettitte game being one, as I was screaming my displeasure from the bleachers. When your record is a half-game better than the Oakland Athletics’ as of May 17, then you know something is gravely wrong. When the team struggles, the common line reads “This offense is too good to struggle for long”, but this stretch of inability to deliver the clutch hit is getting ridiculous. I have a famous line of my own for these pitiful last few weeks, courtesy of my favorite Irish rock star, “How long, how long must we sing this song?”
For all the crap everyone gives the Yankees starting pitching, Phil Hughes especially, each starter’s record wouldn’t look as disappointing on first glance if they had clutch hitting behind them. Phil Hughes probably wins on Thursday night if the Yankees managed a hit or two with runners in scoring position instead of going hitless. Andy Pettitte walks off of the mound a winner in his comeback start if the Yankees actually found a hole with a base hit instead of two run scoring walks in their two bases loaded opportunities. The Yankees possibly defeat the Royals on May 3, the night Mariano Rivera got hurt, if Alex Rodriguez beats Jonathan Broxton with two outs in the ninthinning and the tying run on third base. And on and on. It is getting to the point where watching the Yankees results in feelings of frustration and helplessness instead of pride and joy.
The only good I can find in all of this is that at least this horrific stretch is happening in April and May as opposed to September and October. Let’s just hope the Yankees have things straightened out by then.