When it rains, it pours, in baseball as in life.
Sometimes literally so, as the Yankees learned early Tuesday morning, when a marathon rain delay led to a 9-6 loss to the Rangers that concluded at 2:44 a.m.
Sometimes figuratively so, as the Yankees learned later Tuesday, when what became another loss to the Rangers, this time 7-1, began with a first-inning right hamstring injury to Carlos Beltran.
Yes, THAT Carlos Beltran, the team MVP so far in this maddening season, whose good health is essential to the offense and/or to the opportunity to trade him off to the highest playoff-contending bidder.
Manager Joe Girardi said after the game that Beltran’s MRI came up “clean” and that he is day-to-day, and Beltran himself confirmed he merely felt tightness and was relieved it appears to be nothing serious.
All of which is relatively good news. But still . . .
Count the start of this week as another “sell” vote in the Great Buy vs. Sell Debate of 2016 for the Yankees, whose slow waltz with the .500 mark has begun to resemble a weary couple several days into a dance marathon in the 1930s.
“We’re running out of time to prove that we’re a team that can contend,” Chase Headley said.
Tuesday’s loss came at the hands of lefty Cole Hamels, now 9-1, whom New York fans might recall as the loser in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series as a Phillie.
That is assuming Yankees fans recall what being in the World Series is like after all these years.
Tuesday’s loser was CC Sabathia, who pitched well after giving up a two-run home run to Adrian Beltre in the first, until the Rangers’ five-run eighth, an inning in which the Yankees missed two chances at double-play balls.
“Just a frustrating night,” Sabathia said. “Just a bad deal.”
Beltran pulled up at first base after hitting what should have been a double into the leftfield corner.
It turned out the reason he stopped was a tight hammy, and soon he was leaving the field and taking much of the offense with him. He is batting .297 this season, with 19 home runs and 53 RBI.
With Beltran starting in rightfield, Alex Rodriguez got to return to the lineup as the DH after between benched the previous two games against righthanders. He went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Shrug.
The Yankees now are 37-39, and with July looming fans might soon take to flying a plane over the Stadium trailing a sign reading “SELL!!!!”
Team president Randy Levine called the ongoing media obsession with the issue “nonsense” on Monday.
But it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the fact the Yankees are an aging, directionless mediocrity, and offloading assets might well make sense — and soon.
For the immediate future, there is not much to be gained for the Yankees to admit to any of that, though. There are tickets to sell, so why not try to sell hope?
This is a delicate topic in Yankees Universe, where the franchise faces the challenge of forever being compared to its own successful history.
So, for example: they have led the American League in attendance for many seasons now, and they lead it again this season.
But entering Tuesday night they were averaging 38,171 in paid attendance — 1,806 fewer than time last season, a season that ended with them averaging under 40,000 for the first time since 2000.
“Yeah, attendance is down,” Levine said Monday. “(Journalists are) comparing it in a lot of the stories to 2009, which was the first year of the (new) stadium. The last I looked, we’re still leading the American League in attendance.”
That is true, even after a modest 32,373 showed up Tuesday. But it’s getting late early out there, and the slow drip of irrelevance is turning into a wave.