New York Yankees: Sinking but Trying to Hold On


Yankees work hard to win a game against the Orioles on September 7, 2012. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun/MCT)


Yankees work hard to win a game against the Orioles on September 7, 2012. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun/MCT)

By July 18, the Yankees had built a 10 game lead over the Orioles for first place in the American League East, making it look like they were going to easily cruise along straight to the postseason. However, as of late, the team has been facing all sorts of issues which have caused that lead to diminish substantially. Baltimore and New York are now separated by just one game following their most recent series, with only three weeks left in the season.

Over the last 30 games, the Yankees pitching staff has Earned Run Averages (ERAs) ranging from 0.00  to 13.50, with seven out of the sixteen pitchers having an ERA over 5.00. It’s definitely not the best ERA recipe for winning the A.L. East. For starter Phil Hughes, the Sept. 7 win was a bit of an anomaly. With Hughes, what may be most important is that he does not allow a homerun at all. When Hughes does not allow a homerun by the Orioles, he is 4-1 with a reasonable 3.32 ERA. But when they hit a homer off of him, he is only 1-3 with a staggering 8.78 ERA. Hughes has lost two out of the three starts he had against the Orioles this season, and in each of those two losses he gave up a pair of homeruns. In allowing just one this past Friday, he kept the game close enough for the Yanks to pull away.

Like the overall pitching staff, the offense for the Yankees has been struggling as well. In the past seven games, the team has lost two series, including one against the Orioles. Within that time period, the hitters have gone ice cold. The catcher, Russell Martin, has been the only bright spot for the team, going 6-for-19 with a batting average of .316 and 4 RBI. Almost everyone else have been hitting under a .250 average. Nick Swisher seems to have been struggling the most. In the last seven games, he has a .077 average with 12 strikeouts in 26 at-bats. This current offensive dry spell has started to take a toll on the team’s manager, Joe Girardi. He was ejected from a game against the Tampa Bay Rays for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire. Furthermore, in a recent interview, he made it known that he was not pleased about talking to reporters concerning the lack of runs being scored by the team. Girardi and the players remain optimistic about their chances at winning the division.

But, in spite of the recent win, could there be a possible shift of momentum from the Yankees to the Orioles? In the last 10 games, the Orioles’ record is 6-4 while the Yankees’ record is 4-6. Of the two teams, the Orioles are much younger. Their stars, including Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, are mostly under the age of 30. The Yankees, on the other hand, have many players over the age of 30, including Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andrew Jones, Curtis Granderson and Raul Ibanez. Age may be slowing them down, but the Yankees have also suffered with injuries. Losing key players like the legendary closer Mariano Rivera, who tore a ligament in his right knee while chasing a fly ball during batting practice, has been detrimental for the team.

In the 2010 season, the Yankees faced a similar day-to-day battle of first place with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees made it to the postseason through the wildcard. If that situation were to repeat itself this season, then the Yankees shouldn’t fret too much. They should, nevertheless, try to avoid a collapse like a few teams have done in recent years (the 2007 New York Mets, the 2011 Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves). Like earlier mentioned, there are only three weeks left of the season and it could be the rise or fall of the 2012 New York Yankees.