Yankees' bats fail to deliver, yet again

MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Girardi’s face said everything his mouth didn’t after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Twins at Target Field. He was quiet, quick with his answers in the clubhouse.

It’s easy to understand the reason for the Yankees manager's displeasure.

His team had just put forth a terrific effort on the mound. But, as it has most of the season, the offense struggled to provide run support.

“It happens in the game that some days we score a lot more runs than other days, but when we only give up two runs, we’d hope we could get a few more,” Girardi said. “That’s the frustrating part."

And frustration is the key part of that answer. It was evident on Girardi’s face in his office. It was more than obvious in the desolate Yankees locker room as players dressed and filed to the bus. It was even apparent talking to Derek Jeter -- a man who has experienced his fair share of struggles in his illustrious career.

The Yankees were ranked 19th in MLB in runs scored entering Saturday, with an average of 4.04 per game, and didn’t help their cause with this performance.

“We’d like to score some more runs in that game, but they mixed it up,” Jeter said, crediting the Twins' pitching staff. “It was a game that seemed like it was going to go on forever and opportunities were few and far between.”

The Yankees mustered just seven hits Saturday, but the Twins weren’t any better. They had just seven hits, too.

Girardi seemed pleased with the way starter David Phelps pitched, but Phelps could only do so much. He stymied the Twins for most of the game and gave the bullpen a much-needed rest by throwing seven solid innings, but made a crucial mistake in the bottom of the seventh that changed the tide.

That’s when Josh Willingham jacked a solo shot to deep left field to tie the game at 1.

“There are going to be games where we don’t score a lot of runs,” Phelps said, “and that’s why it’s frustrating for me to give up a leadoff homer in the seventh. If I put up a zero there we can put that game away with our bullpen.”

And though that is true, it’s tough not to feel for Phelps. He had one of his best starts of the season, and the Yankees still walked away with a loss.

Phelps defended his offense after the game, referencing the 13 runs the Yankees scored in the first two games of this series.

“We know we’re capable of more on offense,” Phelps said. “We just saw a guy today that we’ve never seen and with a veteran team that can kind of be a buzz saw. ... We have games like this. It happens.”

It’s been happening too much this year, though. The Yankees have scored more than four runs just 12 times in 32 games since June 1, but somehow still sit just three games back in the AL East.

Though the offensive problems were the big topic after the game, it was a throwing error by catcher Francisco Cervelli in the 11th inning that directly led to the loss. That said, it didn’t seem as though the Yankees really had a shot at stringing together enough hits to score any more runs.

“They capitalized on a mistake and beat us,” Jeter said, “but sometimes we’ve got to give credit to the other side.”

The Twins no doubt deserve credit for their effort. But the Yankees can’t give out too much credit, because they know they can produce more at the plate.

Girardi knows it, and Phelps said it himself.