- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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TORONTO -- Joe Girardi has been saying it all season long: Sooner or later, his lineup will break out of its funk. At some point, the Yankees will start to hit, because, well, they always have.
But now, here we are nearly through with June, and the lineup has not broken out. The Yankees have not started to hit. And the refrain is getting almost as old as the roster.
Monday night, after the Yankees lost 8-3 to the Blue Jays in a game that was not nearly as close as the final score -- they tacked on two runs in the ninth against reliever Chad Jenkins with the game far out of reach -- Girardi offered it up again, although this time it was studded with qualifiers and, frankly, excuses for an offense that has not performed remotely to the level expected of it.
“It’s been up and down during the course of the year," Girardi said. "At times we’ve looked really good, at times we’ve struggled. One thing that we have to do is we have to become more consistent. The guys are working hard. I have no problem with their effort and what they’re trying to do up there. It’s just not working, it’s not happening for them. It will turn.”
You would think so, because major-league ballplayers are nothing if not consistent. And right now, with the exception of Brett Gardner, a career .268 hitter currently batting .285, and Ichiro Suzuki, a career .319 hitter batting .315, not one Yankee is performing up to the back of his baseball card.
Jacoby Ellsbury, career .297 hitter, is hitting .277. Derek Jeter, career .312 hitter, is hitting .267, and a soft .267. Mark Teixeira, career .278 hitter, is hitting .247, but at least he's providing what little pop the lineup has, with 13 home runs. Brian McCann, career .277 hitter, is hitting .218 with very little power. Carlos Beltran, career .283 hitter, is batting .220. And so on.
The sabermetricians can tell you all day long that batting average doesn't matter, but there certainly has to be a correlation between those numbers and these: 12th out of 15 AL teams in runs scored (300), 9th out of 15 in batting average (.253), 11th in on-base percentage (.318), 10th in slugging percentage (.377) and 12th in run differential (-35, meaning they have allowed 35 more runs than they have scored). It adds up to a team just treading the waters of mediocrity and always on the verge of slipping under, perhaps for good.
And it's no longer a "small sample size" -- every one of the players named above has had between 180 and 275 at-bats.
"I’m definitely surprised," Teixeira said in regards to how long this team-wide "slump" has persisted. "Baseball is an individual game in a team atmosphere. We’ve got the guys in here who’ve got it done, we just need to each individually figure out a way to get better."
But the truth is, Teixeira, Girardi, and really all of the Yankees, have nothing to base their faith on but history, the history of the players they spent so much money on this offseason, hoping they would jell into a cohesive team unit.
So far, they have not, and it is not too early in the season to begin wondering if they ever will. After all, at some point, history becomes ancient history, and past performance something that truly fades into the past.
“I have faith in them that they’re going to get it done, and I’ll continue to have faith in them," Girardi said. "The consistency has been the biggest thing. Early on, I thought we swung the bats really good. Then we went through some hard times, we had some people out, had some people come back and we scored some runs. The last three days we’ve struggled a little bit. But we’ll run them back out there tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day.”
Or, it might be the same day we have been seeing all season long. The day when the New York Yankees, who we have been assured will hit, most assuredly do not, and perhaps never will.
QUESTION: Do you agree that the bats will eventually come around? Or is this a fatally flawed offense that will never really get moving?
On deck: Game 2 between the Yankees and Blue Jays, David Phelps (3-4, 3.86) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (10-4, 2.32), who hasn't beaten the Yankees in 10 years, first pitch at 7:07 p.m. Clubhouse opens at 3:37 p.m., and I'll have the lineup, pregame news and notes shortly thereafter. As always, thanks for reading.
7hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com
9hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com
13hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com
14hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com