Despite their recent play being considered “above average,” the New York Yankees are finding the 8-16 hole pretty difficult to dig out of.At first, people considered it “too early” and there was an abundance of time for the New York Yankees to make up what was recognized as an early slump. Little did they apprehend that the Yogi-ism, “It’s getting late early” has become a statement of fact for the 2016 Bombers.
When they dropped a ballgame on May 3 to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, they had become one of the worst teams in all of Major League Baseball.
Through the month of April, their 74 runs scored ranked dead last in all of baseball with the pitiful Atlanta Braves, in a league where the pitchers hit, sitting above them. Pitching-wise, their overall ERA ranked second to last in the American League and their starting pitchers maintained an overall record of 4-10 with a 4.94 ERA.
Standings-wise, they found themselves already 6.5 games in the hole and in such a tight knit divisional race it was a big blow for a team. Yes, this team has intentions of competing and while the Yankees have done nothing but compete in the month of June, it may not be enough to erase their dismal start.
This month, the Yankees’ 13 wins are the sixth most in the American League while owning an 11-7 record since June 6. It may not seem like much, but if you take their 13 wins this month and stretch it over a span of 162 games, it would put New York on pace to win 91 games which may be enough for the AL East crown.
However, thanks to the influence of a mediocre start, they’ll have to do way more than own a .565 winning percentage to stay relevant in the playoff race (which they think they will).
Heck, just to match last year’s win total the Yankees will have to go 50-38 (.568) the rest of the way and as they entered an 11-game stretch in which they played the Colorado Rockies (.480) and the Minnesota Twins (.320), they thought it would assist their quest as they climb back into contention. Yes, they had a winning record (6-5) but it just simply wasn’t enough as they failed to complete series sweeps in two consecutive weeks while going 1-3 against the Rockies.
“You win five out of seven against Minnesota, you can live with that, but the 1-3 against Colorado, we did not play well against them”, manager Joe Girardi told Cesar Mills. “We need to make up ground. No matter who we’re playing, we need to win series.”
The Yankees started this comforting 11-game stretch a manageable 5.5 games back in the AL East but have ended it 7.5 games back and now they realize they must do more in order to have a chance at title number 28 as the Baltimore Orioles have proven they are a legitimate threat (most wins in the month of June).
The stretch which was supposed to serve as an ignition for this Yankees team has done nothing but keep them standing just a little worse from where they already were. Thanks to the funk suffered in April, that simply can’t happen.
While they intend on getting back into contention, they’ll have to continue to dance the tango with the .500 mark which is the plateau they haven’t been able to get away from all year.
Last time they reached the mark of having the same amount of wins as losses were when they won five straight to reach 31-30. Then on June 11 they followed the streak by losing four consecutive contests to fall back to 31-34.
Before then, it was May 24 when the Yankees evened their record up at 22-22 thanks to a shutout win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Many figured they were ready to turn their early slump around but instead they lost eight of their next 12 to fall to back below .500 at 26-30.
Starlin Castro’s walk-off home run brought the Yankees within one game of .500 for the eighth time in the last month and once they got over the hump to become a winning ballclub, they gave up six home runs to fall right back to an even record.
What can this dance with .500 be traced back to? If you guessed the 8-16 start, you are absolutely correct. Even if New York played close to the standard of how they’re performing right now they wouldn’t be in such a distressed status.
“We’re going to try to win tomorrow night’s game and not worry about what’s going to happen at the end of this month or the end of next month or later in the season”, Teixeira also told Mills.
Does the Yankee first baseman realize that the season is 46% complete? Sure they’re a mere 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot but own a 12-22 record against teams that have more wins than losses meaning that their only real shot is to clinch one of the two Wild Cards. Not to worry about the team’s current status and be aware that the end result won’t be pretty is just simply ignorant.
There’s no one else to blame other than Tex’s 147 at-bats without a home run along with the dreary start. It was natural to assume that an early slump can be erased rather quickly, especially in a 162-game season, but the Yankees are feeling it at this moment more than ever.
Don’t believe me? Just imagine what conversation we’d be having if they were at .500 back on May 3 instead of 8-16. I’ll tell you: we’d be celebrating a series win against the Twins rather than watching the team hang their heads at another missed opportunity.
Now, they face their biggest test to date as they welcome in the best team in the AL in the Texas Rangers. The triumphant return to consistency must come as the schedule only gets more superior for New York. If they prove they can take down the best in the league, then maybe they can make a run.
Until then, they are a winning ballclub strapped to mediocracy thanks to a downright appalling initiation to this year’s campaign.