After a grisly sweep at the hands of the White Sox cut the Yankees’ AL East to just 2.5 games over the sizzling Rays, the Bombers got back some breathing room by taking two of three from the Indians. Despite the series win, the Yankees continue to display frightening levels of incompetence at the plate. In three games against Cleveland and their 4.77 team ERA (third-worst in the MLB), the Yanks managed a total of eight runs. Let’s go game-by-game.
Friday: Yanks 3, Indians 1. Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher are the Yanks’ entire offense for the game: a first-inning double by Swisher (plating Jeter) and a two-run homer in the seventh by Swisher (also plating Jeter). The Captain and Swish go 5-for-8 combined; the rest of the lineup goes 4-for-27. In a similar vein, Swish goes 2-for-2 with runners in scoring position; everyone else goes 1-for-8. A strong start for C.C. Sabathia in his return (7.1IP, 1ER) propels the Yankees to the win.
Saturday: Indians 3, Yankees 1. After the sensational summer he’s had, Hiroki Kuroda could easily have expected the Yankees to pick him up after he gave up a two-out, three-run HR to Michael Brantley in the first inning. Kuroda scatters three hits and a walk the rest of the way, holding Cleveland at three runs. But despite facing Justin Masterson and his 4.60 ERA, the Yankees show signs of offensive life in just one inning — the sixth, where a Robbie Cano single loads the bases with none out and Mark Teixeira makes it 3-1 with a sac fly. The Indians intentionally walk Curtis Granderson to load the bases with one out, and neither Eric Chavez nor Russell Martin can get the job done. Rally over, and less than an hour later, game over. Team RISP for the game: 1-7
Sunday: Yankees 4, Indians 2. The Yankees finally come through in the clutch for an inning, pushing across three runs in the second on TWO hits with RISP in the same inning. Four quality at-bats — a clean single up the middle by Ichiro w/ runners on first and second and none out, a perfectly placed sac bunt by Chris Stewart to move the runners over, a muscled dribbler to short by Jeter that could easily have been a K but instead scores a run, and a laced two-out RBI single to left center by Swisher — give the Yanks their biggest inning of the series. Otherwise, it’s a sixth-inning home run by Granderson, and then bupkis. But with Freddy Garcia and the bullpen going strong on the mound, four runs is enough for the win. Team RISP for the game: 2-7
For the series, that’s a .250 average with RISP and 2.7 runs per game against one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball. Don’t get me wrong, a series win in late August is always a positive. But suffice it to say the Yankees really, REALLY need Cano to snap out of his slump and A-Rod to return and be productive come playoff time. Clearly, the Yankee brass agrees: they acquired utility player and former Yankee minor leaguer Steve Pearce from Houston for cash. Pearce (stats here) gives the Yankees another right-handed bat off the bench (sorry, Casey McGehee, but .186/.234/.326 splits are not gonna cut it) and provides added flexibility in the infield as Teixeira tries to fix his ailing wrist and A-Rod rehabs his broken hand.