By Jon Lane
The Yankees are in Miami seething after a 2-4 road trip capped off by dropping two out of three to the hideous Washington Nationals. They are 3-6 in their last nine games, which would be 2-7 if not for Luis Castillo. The mojo they showed for much of last month has been hiding along with the sun during this June swoon, and it started after the first pitch at Fenway Park on June 9. I’m afraid to inform you that’s not a coincidence.
Here were the issues during a miserable Thursday at Yankee Stadium:
? A five-hour, 26-minute rain delay, leaving everyone not employed as a farmer cursing Mother Nature. That said, you cannot control the weather and the Yankees did right by their fans by allowing them to move down from the upper deck and issuing rain checks to a future, non-premium game either this season or next. That’s more than can be said about the boneheads at the USGA, who probably buckled under public pressure when they actually decided to treat their customers fairly by allowing tickets for Thursday to be used on Monday. The fact that it came down to that was downright stupid.
? As far as what the Yankees can control, Joba Chamberlain continues to struggle. Given his inconsistency, Chien-Ming Wang’s attempted recovery, Phil Hughes ready and waiting and the Pedro Martinez rumors, those Joba to the bullpen calls are getting louder. I don’t see Pedro coming to the Bronx and you can’t call for Joba to be yanked from the rotation every time he’s not lights out. Leave him be.
? Seven runs in 26 innings – two in the last 18 – against the Nationals’ pitching staff? Alright, even the best teams are shot down by pitchers on a hot streak, like John Lannan. But it is inexcusable to not score one run off Craig Stammen. This history of morphing no-names into a hybrid of Cy Young and Walter Johnson is ridiculous. How is it that Stammen owned a 5.86 ERA in five starts prior to yesterday against teams that had never seen him either?
? Bill Madden documents such a track record that goes back to Billy Traber (remember him?). Other immortals on the growing list are Adam Eaton and Daryl Thompson, and Fernando Nieve remains fresh in everyone’s mind.
? The Yankees had chances to win yesterday and Wednesday night – and failed against that vaunted Nationals bullpen. For the series they batted 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position (3-for-13 on Tuesday, a win). No wonder why Joe Girardi was in a sour mood.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Girardi said. “The more we talk about it, the more people think about it.”
The truth hurts: The Yankees are 1-10 against the Red Sox and Phillies, and 36-19 vs. the rest of baseball. They play three decent teams during this road trip (Marlins, Braves, Mets). Tonight they face Marlins left-hander Sean West – for the very first time. A good showing and most of the bitter taste of the past two days will be gone. But it starts with Andy Pettitte working beyond the fifth inning, which he hasn’t done in three of his past four starts. And it needs to continue with the offense reawakening against West, who has alternated between great and mediocre.
Stay tuned for a Father’s Day tribute and tonight’s lineups. After that I’ll be away for the next seven days. Enjoy the games.