BALTIMORE - It has become as much a part of the daily routine around the Yankees as batting practice.
In his pregame meetings with the media -- and far more postgames than not -- Joe Girardi fields questions about whatever lineup he sends out not hitting much of anything.
He'll allow that his club is "scuffling'' offensively, but he is just as resolute in his confidence in the group -- the same group, he says, that helped the Yankees reach their high-water mark of 30-18 on May 25.
"I still think these guys can get it done,'' Girardi has said.
But by and large, they haven't been lately.
The Yankees entered Sunday night having lost four straight and 12 of 17. Since getting to 30-18, they had gone 12-20. They scored three or fewer runs in 19 games in that stretch.
"We have a team that we were closer earlier in the season,'' Robinson Cano said late Saturday night. "We know one day it's going to change and turn around, but we just have to find a way now and keep fighting.''
But speaking before Friday night's game, Cano acknowledged the obvious regarding a lineup that has been besieged by injuries since the first days of spring training.
"We're not the same team we used to be in the past,'' he said. "A lot of those guys are hurt. You just have to go out there and stay positive. We don't have those big guys where you can say you can count on maybe four or five guys that can hit a homer any time in the game. I'm not saying not anybody here can hit a homer, but we're not the same team that we used to be in the past.''
Mark Teixeira will not play again this year, lasting only 15 games before surgery was recommended for the wrist he hurt March 5. Curtis Granderson is at least a month away from returning from a broken pinkie. Francisco Cervelli could be back by the All-Star break from his broken right hand. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter have been given the general timetable of "sometime after the All-Star break'' for their returns. Kevin Youkilis' bad back already has put him on the DL twice, and he seems unlikely to return this year.
Girardi sends out a lineup that more often than not resembles something seen in a road spring training game, and even some of the big-name players have failed to live up to their past statistics. He said he assumes that help will be on the way in the second half.
"You make the assumption they're going to come back and be good players,'' Girardi said. "There's nothing that tells me they won't. But the one thing, as you get into July and after the break and later July, you don't want to take a week or two to get guys going. It's one thing doing it in April, but they have to be ready and ready to go.''
Girardi said he's not discouraged. "Because it's baseball,'' he said. "As I've said, I know the effort these guys are putting in, and eventually that work is going to pay off . . . I still think these guys can get it done.''
Time isn't short, but Sunday night marked the official halfway point of the Yankees' season -- Game No. 81. In the ultra-competitive AL East, they can't afford to fall too far behind.
"We're definitely within striking distance,'' Girardi said in evaluating his club at the midway point. "We're in the middle of our division right now. We'd like to be better but that's not the case. It should be a very interesting second half. We're not in too bad a position.''