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By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor - Archive - Email
It's still too early to panic in the Bronx
Tuesday's loss was their fifth straight game that they were held to six
hits or less, a stretch the team hasn't seen since 1990 when it went six games.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If you happen to be walking the streets of New York the next few days, you may want to glance up and watch out for the Yankees fans who are out on the ledges.

The Yankees, of course, built a 10-game lead in the American League East following play on July 18. But since that time the team is just 19-25 and that once seemingly insurmountable advantage in the division is now gone, as the Yanks find themselves tied for the top spot with the Baltimore Orioles.

And while fans in New York might be pushing the panic button, the Yankees' captain certainly isn't.

"Nothing changes; we play everybody," Derek Jeter said. "How many games do we have left? If we win all of them, we're good, right? If that's the case, you don't have to worry about anyone else."

New York, though, has looked bad, basically the whole second half. The Yankees have lost three in a row, five of their past six and 11 of their past 16. And while the Bronx Bombers have struggled, Baltimore and Tampa Bay have gone 29-15 and 28-16, respectively, over their past 44 games.

"Nobody wanted to be in this situation, but this is part of the game," Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. "We've got to go out there, forget about what happened in the past and start from zero tomorrow."

Truth be told the Yankees probably weren't as good as the team they looked like when they went up 10 games. But they also aren't as bad as they look right now, either, especially at the plate.

Tuesday's loss was their fifth straight game that they were held to six hits or less, a stretch the team hasn't seen since 1990 when it went six games.

"We're not scoring a lot of runs, and we're giving up a few too many; that's the bottom line," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We're getting four or five hits a night, maybe six, and that's it. We do get some runs, but we don't tack on."

The Yankees have struggled to hit with runners in scoring position all season, but lately they've been playing with a lineup that has had castoffs from the Houston Astros, 40-year-old outfielders and minor leaguers.

Now, nobody is going to feel sorry for the Yankees and their injury concerns, but facts are facts. The Yankees are better with Mark Teixeira in the lineup, rather than Steve Pearce.

"We've got to hit," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. It's hard to win if you don't hit. We've had a tough time scoring runs the last couple weeks, probably starting around the White Sox series. That's been part of our problem. We're just not getting it done right now. As a club, we're just not hitting the ball very well."

The lineup isn't the only problem. The starting pitching, from ace CC Sabathia on down, hasn't done its job lately, as the Yanks have held the lead in seven of their last 10 losses.

Again, though, this is a rotation that throws the likes of David Phelps and Freddy Garcia out there every fifth day. And Phil Hughes has been bad more than he's been good in the second half. The Yankees have used 22 pitchers this season.

Andy Pettitte and Ivan Nova are getting closer to returning, but are still a few weeks away.

It's kind of funny that here we are in 2012 and Yankees fans are still waiting for Pettitte to ride in on a white horse and save the day. And for good measure, Jeter is still the most consistent player in the lineup.

Is that more of an indictment on the current club, or general manager Brian Cashman? That'll probably be a better debate over the winter. But, now, regardless of what you may read or see on television, the Yankees are still very much alive and well.

Considering all the injuries they've had, it's kind of amazing that they are even in this position. They just need to get healthy.

It's a slump. It's a prolonged slump sure, but one that can be erased this coming weekend when the Yankees travel to Baltimore for an important four-game series at Camden Yards, a ballpark that has been very kind to them over the years.

Not to mention the Yankees close the year with 10 straight games against teams under .500.

So, while the Yanks cap their regular season against a Boston Red Sox team that has already started to fold its tent, the Orioles and Rays will be battling each other.

Speaking of the O's, they still have six games remaining with the Rays in addition to a nine-game road trip that brings them out to the West Coast.

Advantage Yanks.

So, yes, things aren't great at the moment for Girardi's crew, but this time next week the situation may look a whole lot different. And then again, maybe it won't.

The bottom line is there is still a lot of baseball left for the Yankees to get back on track.