AL East Race Heats Up as Yanks Drop Series to Jays
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on August 29, 2012.
Sabathia and the Yankees struggled in Toronto and now face a big series with Baltimore.
And this was supposed to be the easy series.
On Monday, the Yankees started a 22-game stretch against the American League East, kicking off a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, who had limped into the series in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. This was a team that didn’t even include Jose Bautista, their All-Star slugger who will undergo season-ending surgery to stabilize a tendon in his left wrist.
With the Orioles and Rays on the Yankees’ heels for the division lead, this was a series the Yankees really needed to win, if not sweep. Instead, their inability to hit with runners in scoring position reared its ugly head. Those issues, combined with an uncharacteristic blown save by Rafael Soriano and a sub-par start by CC Sabathia, resulted in the Jays taking two out of three. After Wednesday’s loss the Yankee lead in the AL East had shrunk to three games, meaning that if the Orioles sweep this weekend the Yankees would lose sole possession of first place.
In addition to some sloppy play on the Yankees’ part this week, they just can’t seem to shake the injury bug. Last week Ivan Nova became the latest Yankee starter to drop like a fly from the rotation; inflammation on his right rotator cuff landed him on the 15-day disabled list. Mark Teixeira missed the last two games of the Blue Jays series with a strained calf. In an optimistic move, he was not placed on the DL. Teixeira and manager Joe Girardi hope he’s not out for more than a week or so.
Nova’s placement on the DL fortuitously coincided with Sabathia’s return from his own stint. As a result, David Phelps remained in the rotation, and the Yankees couldn’t have expected more from him. In his last three starts he has pitched 18 innings, giving his team a chance to win each time out.
The Yankees haven’t seriously needed to be concerned about what the Orioles do in many years, and at the beginning of the season few expected them to be relevant. (Hence the innumerable Yankee-Red Sox ESPN Sunday night games this season, but zilch versus the Orioles.) But their young roster and scrappy never-say-die attitude will certainly give the Yankees a run for their money this weekend.
Stay tuned for a preview tomorrow.