In the previous series, we were tormented by Angels call-up sensation Mike Trout. Now the Yankees are in Detroit and there’s a new foe in town: an outfielder improbably named Quintin Berry. (I know. It sounds like a Ben & Jerry’s flavor.) Apparently, he’s a 27-year-old minor league journeyman, as opposed to a rookie draft pick, but he’s been tearing it up since he replaced the injured Austin Jackson. He’s fast, steals bases, wrecks havoc. Just what we need, right?
Can’t wait. At least we don’t have to face Verlander until Sunday.
In other news, I thought David Waldstein’s NYT article today was interesting, if depressing. It had to do with the Yankees’ failures with bases loaded this season.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — A year ago the Yankees were the most productive team in baseball with the bases loaded, hitting 10 grand slams and scoring 146 runs.
The year before they were even better, scoring 194 runs in those situations and hitting 10 slams with a .344 batting average. That accounts for a lot of runs.
But this year has been markedly different. Whereas once the Yankees were the most feared team with the bases loaded, now they are almost enfeebled.
Usually, when the bases are loaded the team at the plate has the statistical advantage because pitchers feel compelled to throw strikes, and hitters can unload. Over the previous three seasons, the Yankees collected 461 runs batted in with the bases loaded.
But after going 0 for 2 with the bases loaded Tuesday in their 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, the Yankees were 8 for 53 this season with the bases full, with only two doubles, two grand slams and 33 R.BI.
Their .151 batting average in those situations was 26th among the 30 major league teams and second to last in the American League. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox led the major leagues with a .385 with the bases loaded, and the median batting average was .270.
Worse for the Yankees, they carried an almost inconceivable 0–for-15 streak with the bases loaded into Wednesday’s game. Manager Joe Girardi acknowledged being baffled by the Yankees’ inability to cash in during those tantalizing situations.
“I am, somewhat,” he said. “Sometimes we’ve hit the ball good. We’ve run into a little bit of everything. Some guys not swinging the bat very well when the bases are loaded, and we’ve had the guys hit the ball hard with the bases loaded and making outs. Its unfortunate, but we’re still O.K. Obviously, we’d like to be in a better position than we are today.”
Robinson Cano was the most recent culprit, striking out twice with the bases loaded twice Tuesday. He fanned once in the third inning with the bases jammed and again with two outs in the ninth with the Yankees losing by four runs.
“Just because he doesn’t strike out much, it’s a little shocking,” Alex Rodriguez said. “But he’s human. He’s allowed to make outs.”
Cano is not the only Yankee who has been failing in such situations. Nick Swisher is the only member of the team to have two hits with the bases loaded, hitting a grand slam and a double and knocking in eight runs.
Cano was 1 for 10 with a grand slam, Rodriguez was 1 for 9, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson each 1 for 7 and Raul Ibanez 0 for 6.
This is a team that set a major league record last Aug. 25 by hitting three grand slams in one game, by Granderson, Cano and Russell Martin. For a team to go from hitting .341 with 20 grand slams with the bases loaded over the previous two years to falling far below .200 is hard to explain.
“I just think it’s something we’re going through,” Girardi said. “These guys have been through it enough that I don’t think they are going to press. Now, that doesn’t mean they won’t get frustrated. But I do believe that every time they go up there they believe they are going to do some damage.”
Rodriguez said he had been getting himself out by chasing bad pitches in bases-loaded situations, being overaggressive. He said he needed to avoid swinging at what he called “sucker pitches” that look like strikes but are not.
In addition to the problems with the bases loaded, the Yankees are not hitting well with runners in scoring position either. Their .223 average with runners in scoring position was 25th in baseball.
With the bases empty, however, the Yankees were hitting .280, third best in baseball, and their 44 solo home runs were second to the Baltimore Orioles’ 46.
“It seems like a summary of our season,” Rodriguez said, “that we’re all doing better with nobody on base.”
Is this phenomenon just “something we’re going through,” as Girardi termed it? I don’t know, but it needs to turn around – and soon.
On a brighter note, a friend sent me a link to this ESPN video from a few years ago. It’s about a boy who gets to meet his idol, Derek Jeter. The boy, like my husband Michael, has Crohn’s disease. I loved every second of it.