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Yanks Split With Orioles; October Looking Bleak

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However much relief Yankee fans feel after the split of the four-game series with the Orioles – and it was oh, so painfully close to being 3 of 4 for the Yanks – and however good it felt to finally see the Yanks cut loose for 13 runs on Sunday afternoon, it’s hard to come away with any sense of confidence.

Even if the Bombers hadn’t been hosed on the last call of Saturday’s game — and they were  (badly), with replays showing that Mark Teixiera was safe by at least a yard — and Alex Rodriguez had followed up with a hit, we’d still be waiting to hear if Tex was out for just six days or for the rest of the season after reinjuring a calf muscle in the game.

Either way, the prospects don’t look very good for the Yankees, not
if getting to the World Series is the goal. In fact, they leave
Baltimore with more questions than answers. Given the state of the
rotation, the biggest questions has to be whether C.C. Sabathia finishes
as the ace.

Saturday’s performance was typical of the
mediocre-to-bad season that Sabathia has had since coming off the DL:
109 pitches got him only through 6.1 innings, and he gave up eight hits
and five runs, including three home runs. Worst of all, he failed to
hold on to the lead twice, which is the worst thing your number one
starter can do in a big September game.

With a second rate Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, who has now had two
mediocre outings in a row, is the closest thing the Yankees have to
an ace. In fact, Kuroda is the closest thing the Yankees have to a
seven-inning starter — Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia can scarcely reach
the 5th inning any more, and on Sunday Freddy wilted after just 3 1/3.

In other words, even if the Yankees somehow hold on to win the AL
East, there would seem to be no way they can get through the first round
without a strong return by Andy Pettitte (and the latest reports on him
are as uncertain as those on Teixiera).

Some other unanswered questions: Joba Chamberlain got the win Sunday
for pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings. But is there anyone who really
thinks that he’s anywhere near the Joba of a couple of years ago? Is
there anyone who has any confidence in him when the game is close?

Curtis Granderson drove in five runs yesterday, and in fact came off
the bench to do it. But does that mean he’s found his 2011 stroke? Or
is he the same baffling .230 hitter we’ve been watching all year? Is
Teixeira’s injury a double curse because now it outs Nick “0 for
September” Swisher in the lineup every day? Why did it take American
League pitchers so long to find out that Swisher, when batting
left-handed, can’t hit anything low and slow? And what reason would they
have, from here on in, to throw him anything else, especially with two
strikes?

To counter all of this bad news, the only thing the Yankees can offer
is that A-Rod, with a 13-game hitting streak, is probably swinging the
bat better than he has at any time this season. That and the slim hope
that the Orioles and Rays can wear each other down this week while the
Yankees try to fatten up their lead with the Red Sox. Still, it’s
beginning to seemlike we’re heading for one of those first-round-and-out
seasons.

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