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Monday, February 25, 2013
New-look Yankees O looks like the old one

By Wallace Matthews

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Yankees got runners on first and second with none out in the first inning. They failed to score.

They got runners on first and second with one out in the third. They failed to score.

Sound familiar?

It's only the third game of spring and one of the biggest problems of the 2012 Yankees offense has resurfaced -- the inability to deliver a timely hit with runners in scoring position.

The difference, of course, is that last year's Yankees could hit the ball out of the park. This one, minus Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Alex Rodriguez for half a season and now, Curtis Granderson for the first five weeks, is decidedly power challenged.

Before the game, Joe Girardi repeated his contention that the 2013 Yankees will be more dependent on speed, and will find ways to score runs.

And in his first two at-bats, leadoff hitter Brett Gardner used his speed to good advantage, diving headfirst into first base for an infield hit, and laying down a perfect bunt for another single in the third.

But the two candidates to replace Granderson in left field, Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera, failed to do their jobs. Diaz grounded into a double play and Rivera struck out to end the first, and Diaz grounded out to kill the threat in the third. Diaz also tapped out to third to strand two runners in the fifth.

Not a great Yankees lineup here today -- Rivera is probably the most dangerous bat in the bunch and Francisco Cervelli is the No. 5 hitter -- but still, with a clutch hit or two, the Yankees would have had a couple of runs on the board by now. Instead, they trail the Orioles 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth.