Sunday, September 13, 2009

Just A Hiccup

All right, all right, settle down.

The Yankees have lost two in a row to the wOes and have simply not looked good.

What? You expected the second half to be all champagne and roses? That's just not realistic.

Derek Jeter passed Lou Gehrig to become the franchise's all-time hits leader, but Andy Pettitte and the bullpen could not protect a three-run lead in a rain-soaked 10-4 loss to the Orioles at Yankee Stadium on Friday. Then A.J. Burnett blew up in the second inning, allowing six runs, including a grand slam to Brian Robert, and the Yankees went on to a 7-3 loss Saturday. The Yankees' lead in the AL East is down to 7-1/2 games, their magic number stalled at 14.

It's simply been an ugly 48 hours.

After a downpour and tedious rain delay, Friday's game began well enough with Alex Rodriguez hitting a three-run homer, his 25th of the season, giving him 12 straight seasons with at least 25 homers. Only Babe Ruth (15), Barry Bonds (15) and Willie Mays (13) have had longer streaks.

Jeter then gave the crowd -- and his teammates -- what they wanted to see by leading off the third with a Jeterian single down the right field line for his 2,722 career hit to claim sole possession of the franchise's hit crown.

The crown gave him a raucous ovation and his teammates poured out of the dugout to congratulate him, each taking turns to hug the Captain. It was a special, special moment and when Jeter added an RBI single in the fourth to make it 4-1, it seemed as if the Yankees would be on their way to yet another win.

But Pettitte just didn't have it in the rain, allowing three runs on nine hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out eight, threw only 59 of 103 pitches for strikes and had a second-consecutive subpar outing, but left with a 4-3 lead.

Problem is that with David Robertson being forced to sit out a couple weeks with elbow stiffness the Yankees need their starters to go at least six innings. While Damaso Marte has been very good since returning from the disable list, he still is Damaso Marte.

Joe Girardi called on Marte to get through the sixth and Marte stunk, allowing four runs on four hits and a walk in one-third of an inning. And when the umpires stopped the game for a second time in the seventh, the Yankees were ready to concede this one and move onto Saturday's game.

Unfortunately, they forgot to show up.

Jeter singled, stole second and scored on a Mark Teixeira sacrifice fly to give then Yankees a 1-0 lead, but the Burnett (11-9, 4.33 ERA) just lost it.

Nick Reimold led off the second with a homer. The with one out, Matt Weiters walked and Ty Wigginton and Michael Aubrey singled to load the bases. Robert Andino singled to make it 2-1 before Roberts crushed his grand slam to right to make it 6-1. Burnett proceeded to retire 17 of the next 19.

But it's that same old story for A.J. -- one bad inning. If he can minimize damage when he gets into trouble in that one inning, the Yankees are in good shape. If not, well, we all saw what happened. He ended up allowing the six runs on seven hits and two walked in seven innings. But he just didn't keep his team in the game.

Meanwhile, the offense did nothing against talented rookie Brian Matusz, who allowed one run on four hits in seven inning while striking out three.

And that might be the last the Orioles see of Matusz, who is scheduled to be shut down in mid-September to limit the innings on his young arm. It's the right thing to do for the prized prospect, though simply shutting a pitcher down in the majors is a hell of a lot easier when his team is in last place.

The Yankees now have to figure out how to snap their first two-game losing streak since Aug. 16-17.

Something tells me that with CC Sabathia scheduled to be on the mound today, the Yankees already have all the answers it needs to get back on track and resume the roll its been on for the past four months.

And in the end, this will be nothing more than a hiccup.

Runners In Scoring Position
2-for-8 (.250)
1-for-4 (.250)
366-for-1,345 (.272)
First Half
217-for-819 (.265)
Second Half
149-for-526 (.283)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
301-for-1,072 (.281)
Vs. Red Sox
36-for-163 (.221)

Up Next
Sunday vs. Orioles, 1:05 p.m., YES
Jeremy Guthrie (10-13, 4.96) vs. Sabathia (16-7, 3.40)

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