BALTIMORE - The Yankees are collectively starting to sound like former Jets coach Rich Kotite, who early in a 3-13 season in 1995 declared: "There isn't a cookbook answer. You just can't look it up and it's there.''
So here were the Yankees after an 11-3 loss to the Orioles Monday night at Camden Yards -- yet another defeat in which the offense sputtered.
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"It's August," Mark Teixeira said after the Yankees collected five hits for the third straight game. "It's not like you're going to find some magic formula."
Said Carlos Beltran: "It's baseball. As a team sometimes you go through stretches where you swing the bat well and sometimes . . . I don't know. I wish I had an answer for that."
And then there was Joe Girardi who -- and it was hard to blame him -- cut off the first postgame question, which revolved around his club going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranding seven.
"I don't know," he said.
The Yankees -- who are seven games behind the AL East-leading Orioles and three games behind the Tigers in the race for the second wild card -- have scored only four runs and are 15-for-96 (.156) in the last three games. The Orioles, on the other hand, scored at least 10 runs for the third time in four games. They hit 12 homers and went 45-for-113 (.398) in those three games.
"There's a lot of firepower over there," said Chris Capuano, who allowed four runs and six hits in six innings.
The Orioles, who have hit an AL-leading 150 homers, got key two-run blasts from Chris Davis and Nelson Cruz (No. 31) and a three-run homer from Jonathan Schoop. Davis' homer in the fifth gave the Orioles the lead for good at 4-3.
"Hindsight's 20/20. I'd like to have that pitch back," Capuano said of the hanging slider that Davis, who replaced an injured Manny Machado (sprained right knee) in the fourth, nearly hit completely out of the ballpark. "Seen him do that a lot."
After forcing Bud Norris to throw 40 pitches in the second, the Yankees went down meekly, collecting only Derek Jeter's fifth-inning double the rest of the way. Baltimore's killer bullpen took over in the sixth and pitched four scoreless innings.
"This is the team we have. We have to go win with the guys we have," Jeter said. "You can't sit around and be negative. We have to stay optimistic."
The Yankees snapped a 1-1 tie with two runs in a wild second.
Beltran led off with a walk and, running on the pitch, went to third when Chase Headley grounded one through the vacated hole at second. Then, after Stephen Drew struck out, things got weird.
With Martin Prado at the plate, Headley took off for second and got caught between bases as catcher Caleb Joseph fired to second baseman Schoop. He threw to first baseman Steve Pearce, who decided to try for Beltran -- who broke for the plate as the throw headed for third baseman Machado. When Machado fired the ball home, it clipped the back of Beltran's helmet and went to the backstop, allowing him to score.
Norris retrieved the ball to the right of the dirt near home and inexplicably flipped the ball in the direction of the surprised Joseph into an empty expanse of grass to the left of the plate. Machado tossed it to Norris, who tried to tag Headley before catching the ball -- and didn't hold on to it. That made it 3-1.
It looked like the Yankees' night, until it suddenly wasn't.
"All season long, I think we've been disappointed," Teixeira said of the offense. "I think we all thought we'd be better but we just haven't really gotten it going. That's just the way it is . . . We have a lead and we think we're having a good night, but it turned pretty quickly there."