The singles from Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Robinson Cano came quickly in the bottom of the first inning and it appeared the Yankees were on their way to breaking out offensively.
The first five Yankee at-bats consisted of four singles and one run. The next two were outs and so another attempt at a hitting outburst fizzled.
The rest of the night featured little in the power department and a lot in the outs department and it eventually resulted in a 3-1 loss to the Royals.
It was the Yankees’ (48-42) third straight loss following a season-high six-game winning streak. In the bigger picture, it was their eighth loss in 14 games and 16th in the last 27 games going back to when they were 37-26 following a 2-1 win at Seattle on June 9.
That represents the Yankees’ only win when scoring two runs or less. The Yankees are now 1-28 when that happens and have dropped 11 straight since getting a ninth-inning single from Chris Stewart in Seattle.
Since scoring 29 runs against Minnesota last week, the Yankees are hitting .238 (38-for-160), which is on par with their batting average for most of the year. However, compounding matters is that only three of those hits have been for extra bases and none were Tuesday night.
The wait for injured hitters is becoming even more difficult and the pressure to obtain experienced offensive help from outside the organization is something manager Joe Girardi is not going to delve into.
“That’s something that remains to be seen,” Girardi said. “As I’m asked that question on a yearly basis, what you’re asking me to do is kind of put down the guys in that room and I’ll never do that.”
Tuesday night the Yankees went hitless after Stewart had a one-out single in the second for 18 straight plate appearances, drawing just two walks in that span and hitting into two inning-ending double plays. The string was broken by Gardner’s one-out base hit in the eighth off Tim Collins but Ichiro grounded out and Cano struck out swinging on a changeup after fouling off four straight fastballs.
The Yankees wound up with one hit in their last 24 plate appearances, with the game ending when third baseman Mike Moustakas had to circle back into fair territory to catch a pop-up by Lyle Overbay.
They also failed to hit a home run for the sixth time in seven games and have just 85 so far this season. They are 11-21 when not hitting a home run and 3-37 when trailing after eight innings.
“When you get four base runners after the first inning, it’s hard to do a lot,” Girardi said. “It becomes magnified when you’re not scoring runs.”
Starter CC Sabathia succeeded through five innings but gave up leadoff home runs to rookie David Lough and Billy Butler in the sixth and seventh innings, both on fastballs.
He wound up going the distance, allowing three runs and seven hits while throwing 113 pitches. It was his 37th career complete game and ninth that ended in a loss.
“I think they’re pitching pretty good,” Girardi said of his starting rotation. “I don’t see anything that they’re doing that is they’re not attacking the strike zone, trying to do much. I have not seen it. They’re going out and throwing pretty good ballgames is what they’re doing. We’re just not scoring runs.”
Tuesday night, the Yankees had a .220 hitter in Travis Hafner hitting behind Cano and he struck out three times. The bottom four hitters (Overbay, Eduardo Nunez, Luis Cruz and Stewart) were a combined 1-for-14.
“We’re still in the middle of this thing,” Sabathia said. “It’s up to us. Guys have to keep plugging.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.