The Yankees are going to lose games. It's a fact of life.
That the Yankees lost 5-4 to the Jays at Yankee Stadium Monday to snap their seven-game winning streak is really not a big deal. There will be other losses. The Yankees remain 5-1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East and still have the best record in the majors.
But the disconcerting thing from this loss is that the Yankees just can't get a legitimate effort from their No. 5 starter, Sergio Mitre. Unfortunately, Joe Girardi is intent on leaving Mitre in the rotation instead of giving Chad Gaudin a chance.
Mitre was well-short short of mediocre Monday, allowing five runs, three earned, on six hits and one walk, while striking out six in five innings. I absolutely will not overlook the two unearned runs in this case because they are the result of his throwing error in the third.
The ability to field their position is crucial for pitchers, especially sinkerballers such at Mitre. So far in his five starts this season, Mitre has made three errors, all of them throwing, one on a pickoff attempt. In addition, he has been tentative delivering the ball to second, costing the team several potential double plays.
Monday's error likely cost the team a win.
Coming off the big four-game sweep of the Sox, it wouldn't have been a surprise had the Yankees suffered a let down. But they didn't. They came out and were sharp.
Derek Jeter led off the first with a homer to spot Mitre to a lead. Had the Yankees been flat, the offense wouldn't have gotten off to the fast start and might have struggled deep into the game.
Mitre got through the first two innings unscathed before allowing Aaron Hill's two-homer to center in the third to tie it a 1.
Nick Swisher got the run back in the bottom half with a sacrifice fly after Jeter singled to lead off, stole second and went to third on an error. Mitre, however, threw that lead away.
After Lyle Overbay walked and Vernon Wells singled to start the inning, Mitre got Jose Bautista to bounce a perfect double-play ground back to the box. Mitre fielded the ball, but his throw to Robinson Cano at second was low and skipped into center, allowing Overbay to score to tie it and putting runners at second and third with no outs. Edwin Encarnacion followed with a sacrifice fly before Joe Inglett hit a two-out triple to make it 4-2.
Back-to-back homers by Cano and Jerry Hairston Jr. to tie it a 4 in the bottom half of the inning gave Mitre a reprieve, but that proved short-lived as Mitre served up a two-out homer to Overbay in the fifth.
The Yankees don't need very much for their fifth starter, but they do need him to at least be serviceable.
Mitre has not been that.
In his five starts, he's 1-1 with a 7.05 ERA and 1.91 ERA. He's averaging 4.6 innings a start and struggling against lefthanders, who are hitting .537 against him.
Mitre is trying to overcome a lot: arm surgery and a 50-game drug suspension. Normally I wouldn't fault anyone who would urge patience with Mitre, but here's the thing: he wasn't a very good major league starter before he got hurt. In six seasons with the Cubs, Marlins and Yankees, Mitre is only 11-24 with a 5.48 ERA.
Girardi had Mitre with the Marlins and likes the pitcher's attitude and toughness. That's great, but at some point Mitre has to produce better outings than what he's show so far.
Every once in a while he has to be able to produce the bare minimum for a quality start (6 IP, no more that 3 runs allowed). Otherwise he's nothing more than a drain on the bullpen.
Monday, Alfredo Aceves came on and pitched four scoreless innings, throwing 42 pitches. That's great, but it also means he won't be available for several days, depriving Girardi of a valuable weapon should he find himself in need of a long reliever, in extra innings or searching for an eighth-inning option if Phil Hughes is unavailable.
Look, I'm not optimistic about Chad Gaudin's chances for success with the Yankees. Afterall, he was 4-10 with a 5.13 ERA in San Diego. But I also don't think he can possibly pitch worse than Mitre. In fact, he's more likely to be able to go deeper in the games.
It's time to end Mitre's time in the rotation and time to give Gaudin a shot.
Runners In Scoring Position
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
Vs. Red Sox
Tuesday vs. Jays, 7:05 p.m., Local TV (check your listings)
Scott Richmond (6-6, 3.97) vs. Joba Chamberlain (8-2, 3.73)
Joba struggled through is last start Thursday vs. the Red Sox, but got through five inning to earn his fourth straight victory. Since the All-Star break, he's 4-0 with a 2.02 ERA in four starts, but hopefully he'll pitch more like he did in those first three starts than the last one.