Yankees Keep Fingers Crossed for Cano Return as Time Starts Running Out
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on August 30, 2013.
Anyone thinking the Yankees could keep pace in the playoff race probably didn’t expect them to lose two out of three to the Blue Jays.
But that’s exactly what happened this week, culminating with Hiroki Kuroda’s third consecutive uncharacteristically poor outing on Wednesday night. The right hander, who had essentially usurped CC Sabathia’s role of team ace with a spectacular season, surrendered five earned runs (seven in total) in the 7-2 loss.
Certainly the Yankees can ill afford to lose series to sub-.500 teams this late in the season. The schedule isn’t getting any easier; this weekend the Yankees play the Orioles, whom they are chasing in both the wild card and division races, and next weekend brings first-place Boston. The Yankees also lost last weekend’s series to Tampa, so their opportunities to make up ground against division rivals are quickly waning.
At this point, the most accurate word to describe the Yankees is erratic. Starting pitching has either been heroic or heinous, with not much middle ground. Andy Pettitte fell into the first category on Tuesday with his third straight win, but Phil Hughes surprised no one on Monday when he failed to make it out of the fifth inning.
The offense is fickle as well. The lineup employs streaky hitters like Mark Reynolds and Alfonso Soriano, and concerns about whether or not Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter can remain healthy during their impending stretch of 17 games without a day off loom large.
The Yankees had better hope Jeter doesn’t go down again, since it’s already uncertain who his double-play partner will be on Friday night. Robinson Cano, the one steadfast presence in the Yankee lineup all season, was hit on the hand by a pitch Tuesday night, and subsequently sat out of Wednesday’s lineup with swelling and soreness. Later that night, Eduardo Nunez, his replacement at second base, caught his cleat in the turf and injured his knee. Reynolds replaced Nunez and also started Wednesday night at second.
The good news is that tests on both players were negative, but it’s uncertain if either one will play on Friday. The way the Yankees’ luck has run this season, don’t count on it.
Sabathia will start the opener at the Stadium against Miguel Gonzalez. It seems like we have been saying this all season, but Sabathia really has to step up and give the Yankees a solid performance. He is 17-5 against the Orioles in his career, so it’s imperative that he capitalizes on his past success to lead the Yankees to a victory. This season he is 1-1 against Baltimore.
If the Yankees drop the series to Baltimore, it may be too late to keep waiting for the next opportunity.