Unlike the Yankees’ offense, the rain eventually showed up Wednesday in the Bronx. Just not when it was supposed to.
By order of the commissioner’s office, Masahiro Tanaka had to wait almost 90 minutes to deliver the opening pitch, as everyone else sat looking up at a bone-dry sky, wondering what the heck was going on.
For the rest of the afternoon, and well into the evening, Joe Girardi probably had the same feeling as he watched the Yankees hack away at the plate. All told, there ended up being two hours and 52 minutes of actual baseball played, sandwiched around four hours and 37 minutes of delays.
When play finally did resume, at 8:01 p.m., the most the Yankees could muster in the final two innings was a measly infield single by Jacoby Ellsbury. Figures, right? The rest of the lineup was a no-show, with Aaron Judge next whiffing after being ahead 3-and-0 in the count and the Yankees going meekly in order from there.
This was only the second time all season the Yankees were shut out, but the first was just two weeks earlier, at Fenway Park. We’re beginning to wonder if this power outage might have the makings of a disturbing trend. In the two losses to the Tigers, the Yankees were a combined 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position, and did a terrible job in the situational hitting department.
“Right now we’re not swinging the bats,” Girardi said. “And it’s not one guy.”
No kidding. There are a number of holes in the Yankees’ lineup, but the two biggest lately involve Judge and Matt Holliday. The problem is what to do about them. In the past month, the Yankees have a .715 OPS, which ranks 23rd in the majors and well below the No. 1 Astros (.929). Judge’s disappearance is a direct cause of that fade, and as ESPN pointed out, his two srikeouts in Wednesday’s loss give him a strikeout in 21 straight games, tied for the longest streak this season (he’s also batted .164 over that stretch).
“I’m just missing my pitch,” Judge said. “When I’m getting it, I’m not capitalizing on it.”
While Judge has spent most of the year batting third, he’s back to chasing pitches — an obvious sign of trying too hard — and Girardi probably has no choice but to slide him down a bit to help get some confidence back. When asked after Wednesday’s game, however, the manager didn’t immediately jump at the suggestion.
“It’s not like we have other guys that are extremely hot right now,” Girardi said. “He’s just got to find his way out of it, like other guys do.”
Holliday is in a similar funk, but deeper — and has been there even longer. After Wednesday’s 0-for-4, he’s batting .143 (11-for-77) since the All-Star break, and is homerless in his last 70 plate appearances. Girardi could start thinking more about using one of his spare outfielders at DH, but that still doesn’t help with Todd Frazier’s troubling start in pinstripes. Frazier just got here, so we’ll cut him some slack. But batting .182 (8-for-44) with only one extra-base hit has tarnished the homecoming a little bit with the Yankees clawing to stay with the Red Sox atop the division.
Frazier was supposed to add another power bat to the lineup to provide the pop that Chase Headley lacked at third base. Instead, Headley has hit better after switching to first and Frazier is worse than his predecessor. The Yankees missed out by not beating the Rays to Lucas Duda, and the former Met already has three homers in first five games for Tampa Bay.
We’d suggest making a run at the current Mets’ first baseman, Jay Bruce, but two sources said Wednesday that’s unlikely to happen. While Bruce would likely make it through waivers because of the $4.3 million he’s owed the next two months, the Yankees are unwilling to add any more salary for this season.
Too bad. Bruce hit his 29th homer Wednesday night, and has nine in the past month — only Giancarlo Stanton (12) has hit more over that span in the National League. Like Duda, Bruce certainly could do serious damage in the Bronx.
Right now, however, the Yankees are only hurting themselves.
The Yankees’ bats went cold in the last two games against a Tigers’ pitching staff with the second-worst ERA in the American League. The offensive numbers:
Batting avg. (15-for-68)
Runners in scoring position (2-for-18)
Left on base