The New York Yankees begin interleague play Friday night at Yankee Stadium against the Cincinnati Reds (7:05 p.m. ET, TV: MY9 and MLB Network). Part of the story Friday will be how Andy Pettitte (0-1, 5.68 ERA) performs in the second start of his comeback. The bigger part of the story, however, might be whether or not the slumping Yankees can find their missing offense.
The Yankees (20-18) have lost three straight games and find themselves in fourth place in the American League East 4.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles as the 2012 season nears the quarter-pole. In their last five games, four of them losses, the Yankees have scored more than two runs only once.
The middle of the Yankee lineup has been the biggest issue. First baseman Mark Teixeira is hitting just .228, though he does have 20 RBI. Alex Rodriguez has just five home runs and 14 RBI. Robinson Cano has only three home runs and 14 RBI for the season. In some order, those three generally hit 3-4-5 in the Yankee lineup, and the Yankees are counting on better run production than they have been getting.
There are other issues, as well. Starting catcher Russell Martin is off to a horrid start, hitting only .167. Nick Swisher has slowed after an excellent start, hitting just .160 over the past week. Curtis Granderson has hit .185 over the past week.
Thus, while much of the focus has been on the inconsistent Yankee starting pitching and how the team would handle the season-long loss of Mariano Rivera and the short-term loss of David Robertson from their bullpen the offense has been letting New York down.
Friday night, Pettitte will take the mound against Cincinnati's Brandon Arroyo (2-1, 3.25 ERA). Pettitte will be looking to build on his first start, during which he pitched 61/3 innings against the Seattle Mariners and surrendered four runs.
The Reds (20-19) enter the series 2.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central.
Pitching matchups for the rest of the series are as follows:
- Saturday (1:05 p.m.): Ivan Nova, Yankees (4-1, 5.44) vs. Homer Bailey, Reds (1-3, 4.35)
- Sunday (1:05 p.m.): CC Sabathia, Yankees (5-1, 3.77) vs. Johnny Cueto (4-1, 1.89)