In almost any year within the last two decades, a two-run lead did not necessarily feel insurmountable for the Yankees.
This year is like no other year for the Yankees and their lack of offense was on full display Thursday afternoon during a 2-0 loss to the Rangers.
It marked the seventh shutout loss, equaled a season-low in hits for a team with a .238 batting average, a .301 on-base percentage and a .681 OPS.
“We’re struggling right now,” manager Joe Girardi said, repeating a frequent refrain.
Even though it might have been partially related to how Derek Holland dominated in a 92-pitch complete game, it also might have something to do with who he facing. He faced a lineup that had one starter hitting .318 and that Zoilo Almonte who has been here a week. The highest other Yankee average in the starting lineup belonged to Ichiro Suzuki and his .277 was one of three above .250 Thursday.
“You don’t score runs; that becomes an issue, but I believe we’re capable of scoring runs,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “I think we can (score with the current roster) but time will tell.”
The loss was so frustrating for Girardi that after watching his team lose for the 10th time in 15 games and score two runs or less for the 25th time, he caught flinging a white towel out of the dugout in disgust
Forty-one players have suited up for the Yankees and none have been named Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Among that group have been cameos by Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, who played a combined 23 games totaling 81 at-bats before re-injuring themselves.
That meant that a lot of time has been spent trotting out Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay, two veterans who started off decently but have simply regressed to what they were before their fast starts in April.
That also has meant a bigger burden for Robinson Cano to shoulder as a pending free agent and so far the results have been mixed. Cano has not been over .300 since May 15 (.301) and is hitting .244.
Three times in less than 24 hours, Cano has come up with a chance to change the story with one swing. He came up with two on in the fourth inning of a 4-1 game but settled for an RBI single and yesterday he didn’t even get that with a runner on base, grounding into an inning-ending double play in the first and striking out for the first out of the fourth.
The inability of the offense led to a tough-luck loss for Phil Hughes. Hughes seemed to be mixing his off-speed pitches and equaled a season-high by pitching eight innings.
“He deserves a lot more than he got,” Wells said. “To only give up two runs against a team like that, he’s doing his job.”
Along the way, he allowed two runs and five hits, numbers that any manager would sign up from any pitcher. His worst inning was the third when Texas built a run a sacrifice fly by Ian Kinsler and his worst pitch was a 1-1 changeup to rookie Jurickson Profar that landed in the right field seats.
And because of the impotent Yankee offense, Hughes has just two wins in the eight games that he has limited opponents to two runs or less.
“Trust me I’ve gotten plenty of run support in the past,” Hughes said. “Sometimes you’re going to go through stretches where it’s not there. We as pitchers have to do a better job of keeping us in the game.”