What the heck has happened to the New York Yankees? A couple of weeks ago the Yankees were riding high, breezing along atop the American League East while Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays slogged along trying to overcome awful first weeks of the 2011 MLB season.
Now, the shoe is on the other foot. The Yankees have lost six straight, including three to Boston and one to Tampa Bay, and 10 of their last 13. They are now 20-19, three games behind the Rays in the division and tied with Boston.
Where did it all go wrong? The answer is, honestly, pretty much everywhere. Forget the squabbles with Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter recently, for the past two weeks the Yankees have not done much of anything well. They have not hit when they have needed to, the defense has been shoddy, the base-running at times questionable and the pitching erratic.
The Yankees are hitting .227 during their recent losing streak and the rotation has a 6.15 ERA.
Forget Posada and his anemic .165 batting average. The Yankees' offensive issues run much deeper than that. Derek Jeter is back down to .255. Russell Martin is hitting .252 after a hot start. Mark Teixeira is at .252 and has tailed off recently. Alex Rodriguez is at .242 and has been a non-factor in recent weeks. Brett Gardner is at .248. Nick Swisher is at an awful 218. Even Robinson Cano (.286) has not been great lately, and now is hobbling around on a bruised knee.
"This is going to turn around," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We're going through a really tough stretch. This is where you're tested as a team, and you've got to fight through it."
If the Yankees are going to get started in the right direction Tuesday night, they will have to do it against a tough right-hander, James Shields. Shields is 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA this season. The Yankees will start Ivan Nova, who is 3-3 with a 4.70 ERA.