Last Updated: 12:16 PM, May 23, 2012
Posted: 1:35 AM, May 23, 2012
For a team built for two- and three-run homers, the Yankees certainly have had a hard time hitting them recently.
So while the middle of their lineup continues to flail in clutch situations, they’ll have to take games like last night’s 3-2 win over the Royals — where the biggest hit was an opposite-field single by Derek Jeter with the bases loaded that tied the game.
“That’s exactly the type of game we haven’t won,” Alex Rodriguez said after the Yankees snapped a three-game losing streak. “Sometimes [you] need a win like this to get on a roll.”
Maybe. Or maybe it’s just another example of how the offense remains in a rut.
In the two-run fifth, the Yankees used an error, a hit-by-pitch and a bunt single to load the bases before Jeter’s single and Curtis Granderson’s groundout that drove in the go-ahead run as the Yankees managed to stay above .500 (22-21) and move out of a tie for last place because the Red Sox lost to the Orioles.
Still, just when it seemed like the Yankees were going to break out of their slump, Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez whiffed to end the inning and the Yankees failed to get another hit the rest of the game.
Phil Hughes survived six innings to improve to 4-5 and the bullpen provided three scoreless innings to make the lead hold up, ending the Yankees’ three-game losing streak. Rafael Soriano tossed a scoreless ninth for his third save of the season.
Despite the win, the struggles of the middle of the lineup show little sign of disappearing, with Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira — among others — still not producing.
Teixeira and Rodriguez have five home runs each and a combined 35 RBIs. Heck, that’s as many RBIs as the Blue Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion has, and he’s hardly baseball royalty.
Rodriguez’s only hit was a cue-shot to right in the fourth and Robinson Cano, who had homered in the fourth, was walked intentionally to load the bases in the fifth to bring up the third baseman. Rodriguez promptly struck out.
“I love it,” Rodriguez said of the Royals’ strategy. “I don’t like striking out in that situation, but I’ll take my chances. … You don’t have to worry about me.”
And he did make an impact on the game. His strong throw on a slow grounder by Alcides Escobar with two outs in the ninth reached Teixeira just in time, preventing Alex Gordon from scoring the tying run from third.
“When you’re hitting like crap, sometimes you have to help the team win in other facets,” Rodriguez said.
Despite not hitting like he’s used to, Rodriguez said he’s not worried.
“I know what I can do offensively,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind.”
Or in Kevin Long’s mind. The hitting coach hasn’t stopped believing both Rodriguez and Teixeira will get back to where they used to be.
“I expect them to be the players they’ve always been,” Long said of the duo, two of the main offensive culprits for a team which had gone 6-for-72 (.083) with runners in scoring position since May 13 before going 2-for-7 last night. “I can’t come to terms with a guy declining or not being who he’s supposed to be. I won’t do it.”
He pointed to a year ago, when he defended Jeter during his awful start before he rebounded in the second half of the season.
“I remember talking about Derek Jeter [struggling] and I wouldn’t accept it and I’m not gonna accept that about Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira,” Long said. “They’re better than this. They’re gonna get it done.”
They did on the final play, with Teixeira reaching high, but staying on the bag, to ensure the last out.