This year, the New York Yankees have been as much a sideshow as a Major League baseball team.
Now, with a month and a half left in the season, they are trying desperately to claw their way into the playoffs.
They’ve struggled mightily with health this season–Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Travis Hafner have all missed LOADS of time on the DL–the dude who’s supposed to be their ace, C.C. Sabathia, is having the worst season of his career, and their everyday catcher for the most part has been Chris Stewart (who has an OPS of .581).
The Yankees have managed to maintain a record above .500 throughout the season despite all this, but the story of the season for the Yankees has been, until recently, closer Mariano Rivera’s swan song– the 43 year old closer plans to retire after this season.
Now Alex Rodriguez has taken the attention off of Rivera, as the Yankee slugger has made his return to the Bronx while appealing the historic 211 game suspension he received from the MLB.
The embattled star may appear to be a distraction for the Yanks, but he does bring a powerful bat to what has been one of the most punchless lineups in baseball.
The boost he can give the Yankees was on display yesterday against the Tigers as he blasted a towering solo home run in the second inning and drove in another run with a sharply hit single in the third inning.
In the game, the Yankees managed to score four runs on the formerly nasty (and still good) Justin Verlander. One of the other runs came via a solo bomb by another recent add to the Yankees roster, old friend Alfonso Soriano, who has mostly struggled since arriving in New York a couple of weeks ago but is also capable of providing the Yankees’ moribund offense a shot in the arm.
The Yankees entered the ninth inning against the Tigers with a 4-2 lead, but the usually masterful Rivera blew the save (his third blown save in a row–another oddity in this strange Yankee season), giving up home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. The Yankees bounced back in the bottom of the ninth, as a Brett Gardner home run gave them a 5-4 victory (and got Mariano Rivera a
well earned win).
The five run outing hardly represented an offensive outpouring for the Yankees, but A-Rod and Soriano swinging their bats well, particularly against a quality pitcher like Verlander, can’t be a bad sign for the Pinstripes.
To date, the Yankees are seven games back in the Wild Card race. It would take a remarkable hot streak from the Yankees to sneak into the playoffs. And with Derek Jeter’s return not imminent and Granderson, Soriano, and Rodriguez still trying to find their grooves, the Yankees do not appear to have the offense to make such a run.
But that doesn’t mean the Yankees are going to stop providing entertaining games like the one they played in against Detroit. In fact, two out of their last four games have gone to extra innings, one of which came in the form of the Yankees’ final loss in a three game sweep they fell victim to against the lowly Chicago White Sox.
And, of course, the circus surround Rodriguez is interesting too.
Who knows, maybe the Yankees will rediscover their offense and make a run at October baseball. After all, the Yankees, who have a 6-1 record against the Indians and an 0-4 record against the Mets this season, have been nothing if not unpredictable so far this summer.