The Yankees hesitated, and they lost.
As the trade deadline came and went the Bombers sat on their hands while the Blue Jays, aggressively pursuing their first playoff berth since 1993, made bold moves and got better. The only move the Yankees made was to bring in the underachieving Dustin Ackley from Seattle, and he hit the DL after just two games with a strained oblique.
Meanwhile the Blue Jays, who are 11-1 since the trade deadline passed, loaded for bear and brought David Price and Troy Tulowitzki into the fold, and their authoritative and surprising series sweep of the Yankees this past weekend in the Bronx made those moves look very wise.
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It wasn’t just the fact the Blue Jays took three games out of three and trimmed the Yankees’ division lead to 1.5 games, it was the way they went about it. The Yankees, who through last Tuesday had scored 90 runs in a 10 game span, plated just a single run in three games. Saturday and Sunday’s shutout losses marked the first time the Yankees had been held scoreless in back-to-back contests since 1999.
You might recall the Yankees had won 17 in a row at home against the Blue Jays before that streak was broken late last season. But that run of dominance has come to an abrupt end; the transformed Toronto team has taken seven of the nine games they’ve played with the Yankees this season.
The blame for this embarrassment lies solely on the Yankees’ offense, which has all but disappeared in the last week. In fact, in the month of August the Yankees are batting just .208, a far cry from their season average of .256. They were allowed just 14 hits in the Blue Jays series (eight of which came in Friday’s extra-inning loss), well below expectations for the second-ranked offense in baseball.
Those looking for a scapegoat should look no further than Jacoby Ellsbury. No one is slumping harder than Ellsbury right now, as he is batting a paltry .120 in the past seven days and is at .191 since returning from a knee injury that kept him out nearly two months.
Alex Rodriguez is also going through a rough patch at the moment; A-Rod was held to one hit in the Blue Jays series and he’s failed to hit a home run in the last 11 games the Bombers have played.
And there’s no relief in sight. After a series in Cleveland in which the Yankees will face Carlos Carrasco (11-8, 3.76) and Danny Salazar (9-6, 3.38), they will have to travel to Toronto to face the Blue Jays again on the weekend.
Mark Teixeira brushed off the fact the Blue Jays were coming to the Bronx last weekend, saying he didn’t bother looking at the calendar. This time around, the Yankees had better have the date circled.