SAN DIEGO -- What would life for these Yankees be like without Alex Rodriguez?
Probably a lot worse than it is right now, even with all the losing.
Minus the never-ending A-Rod saga as a smokescreen, people might actually notice how miserable this team has been since the All-Star break. With Sunday's 6-3 loss to the lowly Padres -- to whom the Yankees dropped two of three this weekend -- the Yankees are now 6-9 since returning from the break and a whopping 9 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East.
So the Yankees have at least one thing to thank Alex for -- taking the focus over what has so far been a horrendous second half of the season.
Three and out: It was another dismal day for Phil Hughes, who didn't even make it out of the third inning, allowing five runs on six hits, his worst outing since he was chased in 2/3 of an inning by the Mariners on May 15. Hughes' worst moment probably came when he allowed a two-run single to Everth Cabrera in the second inning on an 0-2 fastball, pointing up one of his biggest flaws: The inability to put hitters away. The good news: At least he didn't allow a home run.
Why can't the Yankees develop an Ian Kennedy?: Oh, yeah, they did. The guy the Yankees ranked No. 3 behind Hughes and Joba Chamberlain -- and who was shipped off to the Diamondbacks as part of the three-team deal that made Curtis Granderson a Yankee -- began his Padres career with a strong showing against his former team for five innings, allowing just two singles, before running out of gas in the sixth. Kennedy allowed four hits and two runs in earning his first win as a Padre.
Get that baseball!: Austin Romine hit his first major-league home run in the seventh to cut the Padres lead to 6-3, but unfortunately for him, the ball was caught by someone in the Padres bullpen who, probably unaware of the milestone, flipped it into the crowd to a fan.
Grand return: Curtis Granderson knocked in the Yankees' first run of the game with a single in the sixth. Since returning to the lineup on Friday, he's 3-for-9 with a HR, 3 RBIs and today, three walks.
Empty Garden: Brett Gardner was given the day off but came in to hit for Adam Warren in the seventh and struck out swinging. Gardner remained in the game and came to bat again in the ninth with a runner on first, and struck out looking. With Granderson on the DL for most of the year, Gardner leads the team in strikeouts with 94.
Waiting on Alex: Joe Girardi said before the game, A-Rod was "penciled" into his lineup for Monday and the way the Yankees hit Sunday, and all weekend, the Yankees have to be rooting hard for their wayward third baseman to find his way into their lineup, and soon.
What's next: The Yankees run away to join the A-Rod circus in Chicago. Pitching matchups for the three-game series with the White Sox: Andy Pettitte (7-8, 4.28) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (5-3, 3.62) Monday, Hiroki Kuroda (10-6, 2.38) vs. LHP Chris Sale (6-11, 2.92) 8:10 p.m. Tuesday and CC Sabathia (9-10, 4.78) vs. LHP Hector Santiago (3-7, 3.28), Wednesday, all games 8:10 p.m. starts.