KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Maybe it's what an anemic Yankees offense needed:
A day off.
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It certainly couldn't hurt.
In the midst of a stretch of 17 straight games, the Yankees were rained out Monday night against the Royals. The game will be made up here Aug. 25.
After the postponement, Joe Girardi said he plans to stay in rotation, meaning Monday night's scheduled starter, Vidal Nuño, will start the series opener against the Mariners in Seattle Tuesday night.
That decision denies Japanese baseball fans an interesting pitching matchup: Masahiro Tanaka against the Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma, a former teammate of Tanaka's with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Iwakuma is 4-2 with a 2.66 ERA; Tanaka is 9-1, 2.02.
"It just gives him [Tanaka] an extra day, gives all our guys an extra day, which in a long stretch I think they can use," Girardi said.
The unscheduled day off also gives an extra day to centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, scratched from Monday night's starting lineup with a sore right hip. In the third inning Sunday, Ellsbury stumbled rounding first base after hitting a ball into the gap in left-center. He ended up with a double rather than a triple.
"Just had an awkward step," Ellsbury said Monday. "I came in today [sore], but the plan was to come in at some point in the game [Monday night] if they needed me to hit or play defense, run, whatever it might have been. I was available. I plan on being in there [Tuesday night].''
Ellsbury has a 13-game hitting streak (20-for-52), making him one of the few Yankees pulling their weight at the plate. The club has been in an offensive tailspin of late, bottoming out in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Royals in which they went 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position. In their last six games, the Yankees (31-31) are 10-for-54 with RISP. They have scored 25 runs in their last 10 games, in which they went 3-7.
Speaking at length -- again -- about his team's troubles, Girardi said the answer isn't radical changes to the lineup.
"The one thing that you can't do is you can't necessarily just start changing everything," he said. "You look at what guys have done in the past, you look at what guys are doing this year and you try to put what you think is the best lineup together every day. It's been two months. We've struggled the last three or four weeks scoring runs and obviously we know we need to score more, but guys are going through a tough time. Sometimes you just have to ride it out a little bit."
Just about everyone in the lineup, except for Ellsbury and Yangervis Solarte, is slumping, whether it be in the last three or four weeks or the entire season.
"We have to find ways to score runs," said Derek Jeter, in an 8-for-46 slide since his four-hit game May 25 in Chicago against the White Sox. "When you're scuffling, it's not always because you're pressing. Sometimes some guys are beating you. But you have to continue to work and hopefully your luck changes."
Though fans and media at times clamor for lineup shifts, Girardi said his experience, both as a player and manager, is that those things generally are overstated.
"Sometimes it can have an impact, probably a lot of times it doesn't," he said. "For the most part, numbers equal out over time, so maybe it's trying to buy and sell stocks. You're trying to figure out when it's going to be at its highest and lowest and it's hard to predict. You move a guy down and he goes 3-for-4 and then you wish you'd hit him fifth that day when two guys were on. That's what you deal with. The big thing is to get them going, and they need at-bats to get going."