It's hard to believe the Yankees were in first place in the AL East by four games just two weeks ago. They lost for the 10th time in the past 11 games, 5-2, to a Texas team that pounded out six extra-base hits Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees, who were 21-12 after winning on May 11, dropped their sixth straight game and fell to 22-22.
Their pitching staff is in tatters. Starter Chris Capuano (0-2) lasted only 41/3 innings, marking the fifth time in this 1-10 stretch -- and the fourth in the last six games -- that a starter has failed to get out of the fifth inning.
"Your starting pitcher usually sets the tone of a game, but you have to rely on your hitters to rally back," manager Joe Girardi said.
Referring to the Rangers' three-game sweep, he added, "We almost did it the first night [in a 10-9 loss after falling behind 7-0] but came up a little bit short. The second day, they put up a 10-spot in the third, and that's really hard to overcome. But the tone is always set by the pitcher."
Capuano was lucky the deficit was only 3-2 when he departed.
He gave up an unearned run in the first inning when Shin-Soo Choo reached on an error by second baseman Jose Pirela and immediately scored on a double off the centerfield wall by Prince Fielder, who went 8-for-14 with three homers, a double and nine RBIs in the three-game series.
The Yankees responded with two runs in the bottom of the first even after Brett Gardner singled and was thrown out at third on Chase Headley's single for the first out. Alex Rodriguez singled and the runners advanced to second and third on Mark Teixeira's grounder to first. Brian McCann's two-out, two-run single gave the Yankees a short-lived 2-1 lead.
Capuano got the first two outs of the second but gave up a single to Robinson Chirinos and a two-run homer off the top of the leftfield wall by No. 9 hitter Adam Rosales. Capuano yielded two more singles before striking out Fielder.
"As a pitcher, you get two quick outs, you've got to be better than that,'' Capuano said. "You've got to shut them down. The two-out hits and runs come back to haunt you. It's something I'm not happy with tonight.
"My No. 1 goal was to get deep into this game and take a little pressure off the bullpen and keep our team in the game. I've got to be better."
In contrast with the Yankees' parade of relief pitchers, Texas starter Yovani Gallardo (4-6) settled down after his rough first inning. After Didi Gregorius reached on an error leading off the second, Gallardo pitched to the minimum number of batters through the end of the sixth, allowing only a fourth-inning single by Garrett Jones, who was erased by a double play.
Justin Wilson was absolutely hammered in the top of the seventh. After Delino DeShields lined a triple over the outstretched glove of Chris Young in deepest center, Choo doubled him home and scored on a single by Fielder that just missed clearing the wall in rightfield. The Rangers, who outhit the Yankees 13-6, had four doubles, a triple and a home run.
Things could get tougher when Kansas City arrives today with the best record in baseball.
"Nobody is more frustrated than the guys in this room," Gardner said. "What is it? Nine out of the last 10? Ten out of the last 11? I'm starting to lose count now . . . Kansas City is coming to town, and they've got a pretty good team. We've got to right the ship."