<
>

Bats, not pen, causing problems in Bronx

NEW YORK -- Adam Warren and Dellin Betances did their due diligence, standing by their lockers, answering mundane questions about why Tuesday night ended in a 10-inning loss for the New York Yankees.

They had learned to face the music by watching their elders, such as Mariano Rivera and David Robertson, handle defeat with respect.

But while Warren and Betances gave their penance for contributing to the Yankees wasting Hiroki Kuroda's fine start, everyone knows it is still the hitters, not their pitchers, that are the Yankees' problems these days.

Mark Teixeira returned from his right wrist injury to pick up an "excuse me" RBI popup single in the first and a no-doubt-about-it, go-ahead homer in the sixth.

So Teixeira produced two runs. The rest of his teammates? None.

Once again, they couldn't even hit for extra bases against Scott Kazmir and four Oakland A's relievers. Besides Teixeira's homer, the Yankees had six singles in their 10-inning, 5-2 loss to the American League's best team.

The Yankees haven't scored more than three runs in their past five games, all at Yankee Stadium. That is why they have lost three in a row and four of their past five.

"You just have to keep running them out there and they have to get the job done," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. We've had different people in the lineup and everyone's had a shot, and we will continue to put out what we think are the best matchups against certain people."

You can point a lot of fingers, a lot of places, but Alfonso Soriano is the biggest problem these days. It might be time to bench him.

In his last 14 games, Soriano is 4-for-39 (.103), dropping his average to .226. When Carlos Beltran returns, which might be as soon as Friday, it is hard to think Soriano has earned much playing time when you consider how much worse he is defensively than Ichiro Suzuki and his inability these days to make contact.

"My timing is off," said Soriano, who has struck out 58 times in 186 at-bats.

Soriano, to his credit, was around afterward to answer questions. The usually talkative Teixeira was not, for reasons unknown. So there were no updates on whether he felt fine after playing in his first game since missing the previous two and five of the past seven because of his inflammation in his surgically repaired right wrist.

Though Teixeira is part of the solution, he can't do it alone. It is not only that the Yankees aren't the Bronx Bombers these days, they aren't even the Bronx Bunters.

In the seventh, Brendan Ryan failed to lay down a bunt that could have pushed runners to second and third for the top of the order and possibly extended the Yankees' lead at the time.

Again, fundamentally, the Yankees are an unsound team, and it is more glaring because they are so powerless.

So Warren and Betances stood at their lockers and said all the right things. Betances lamented the two-out walk to Alberto Callaspo in the eighth. It was Betances' first walk in 10 games and 15 1/3 innings. The only hit Betances gave up was the game-tying double to pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt. Meanwhile, Warren said Brandon Moss' go-ahead homer in the 10th, caught too much of the plate.

Still, the loss wasn't their fault. They have been excellent all season. The hitters are the ones at fault as the Yanks (29-28) stare at .500 with another loss.