This weekend, the roles have been reversed, as it is the Orioles beating up on the Yankees and fighting for first place with the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. Everyone knows now that this is not a fluke because the Orioles have been the best regular season team in baseball since the end of July last season.
In contrast, the Yankees are sinking toward the bottom of the division, losing four in a row and 20 of their last 32 games. They are just two games ahead of the last place Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees simply do not have the talent to win games on a consistent basis right now, and it is starting to show. They cannot hit. Their paltry .240 team batting average ranks 13th out of 15 teams in the American League.
They certainly cannot hit for power. Their 80 home runs are the same amount as the Houston Astros, who have the worst record in the American League. Only three teams have fewer home runs in all of baseball.
The Yankees’ starting pitching and bullpen for the most part have done a good job, but it has to be great in order to make up for the anemic offense and win some games. On Friday, CC Sabathia carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning but coughed it up late. On Saturday, David Phelps got absolutely thrashed on national television, allowing nine runs in only 2.1 innings of work.
The fact of the matter is that the root of their struggles is their inability to stay healthy. Mark Teixeira was just declared to be out for the rest of the season after deciding to undergo surgery on his right wrist. Curtis Granderson has only played eight games and is still working his way back from a broken pinky. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter might come back after the All-Star break at the earliest.
The brave souls who have tried to replace these terrific players have tried their best to replicate their production but quite frankly are not getting the job done.
Rookie David Adams has the right attitude but has not shown yet the ability to play regularly in the major leagues. Jayson Nix at times has been a capable fill-in at either third base or shortstop, but he is no Jeter or A-Rod.
At first base, Lyle Overbay delivered big hits in the beginning, but his inability to hit left-handed pitchers hampers his ability to play at the position every day.
In left field, Zoilo Almonte had a few nice days at the plate and is now coming back to earth after replacing Vernon Wells, who has hit .186 over the past two months.
At DH, Travis Hafner has provided some of the better power numbers on the team but still has hit .173 in the same time period.
Robinson Cano is still far and beyond the Yankees’ best player. However, .284 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs are not exactly the numbers that will get him the $200 million contract he wants at the end of the year or get the Yankees to the playoffs.
The team will not be able to survive unless the injured comrades listed above come back and play well.
All in all, the Yankees are fading quickly while the Orioles are ascending. They remain in third place at the moment, 5.5 games behind the Red Sox and three games behind the Orioles. Although, if the Yankees continue to lose like this, they could find themselves in the cellar.