Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Something stinks ... and it ain't just Melky

Looking at things on a small-picture scale, I thought the Yankees needed to have this series against the Rangers.

With the All-Star break closing in and six games coming up against the Red Sox and Rays, building some momentum after a ho-hum Mets series seemed like an important thing. Taking at least two games from an all-hit, no-pitch Texas team at home didn't seem to be asking too much. After all, the Yankees have a lineup full of former All-Stars, while the Rangers possess the highest team ERA in baseball. What could go wrong?

Well, how about everything for starters? First came Monday's offensive stinkfest. Then last night. Joba couldn't throw strikes and was done after four innings. The lineup -- now with seven runs in 38 innings -- continued to put the staff in a difficult situation. Girardi went full-on brainlock in the ninth, letting the hopeless Melky (0-for-his-last-19) swing away instead of pinch-hitting Jeter with a man on first and no out, leading to the inevitable rally-killing double play. A fine performance by the bullpen aside (Mo excluded) and what you had was a garbage performance by a fading team.

What we have now is the worst-case scenario with the AL East's two best teams about to come into town. The Yanks have lost three straight and seven of their last 11. Let this funk stretch another week and -- barring a miraculous run -- your season is essentially over. Done. Caput. Adios.

The stakes are that high. This isn't like past years, where the Yankees needed only to worry about getting to 92 wins. There might be two 94-win teams in their division this season. If the Yankees don't right this ship immediately, and by that I mean win 4-5 games over this seven-game stretch (1 Texas, 4 Boston, 2 Tampa Bay), you can say the USS Bomber is officially sinking.

No urgency, no hope. This could be the epitaph on the 2008 New York Yankees' gravestone if they don't snap out of this quickly. Last night, the Rays made more believers with their second straight win over the Red Sox. None of us have wanted to take Tampa Bay seriously this season, but it's time. The Rays are eight(!) games up on the Yanks in the loss column. Meanwhile, New York is five games out in the Wild Card chase, trailing three teams in the standings.

Bottom line? Start winning now, or watch your September games have as much impact in the standings as your March games. No urgency, no hope.

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