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Monday, August 9, 2010
Another rough day for Jorge Posada


NEW YORK -- Monday was not one of the more memorable days of Jorge Posada's long and distinguished New York Yankees career.

In fact, it was a day he would probably soon like to forget.

Posada did not have a particularly bad day at the plate -- 1-for-3 with a single and a walk. But the Boston Red Sox stole six bases off him -- four by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury -- and beat the Yankees, 2-1, to earn a split of this four-game series.

Ellsbury is the first player to steal four bases in a game against the Yankees since Brady Anderson in 1998. And he's only the fifth player since 1920 to steal four or more bases against the Yanks in a nine-inning game.

The last player with more than four? Johnny Neun of the Detroit Tigers, who had five in a game in 1927. (Thanks to ESPN Stats and Information.)

The most costly stolen base was the first one, but that one wasn't swiped by Ellsbury. Rookie Ryan Kalish singled with one out in the second inning of a scoreless game, and then attempted to steal second. Posada's throw sailed into center field, and Kalish advanced to third on the error. He then scored on Bill Hall's infield single.

Hall came around to score as well in that second inning. Those were the only two Red Sox runs of the ballgame, but that was all Boston needed behind Jon Lester, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon.

Posada struggling to throw out would-be base stealers is nothing new -- it's been a weak point of his game for years. The Yankees are more often than not able to overcome it, helped in large part by Posada's prowess at the plate.

But the thing is, that's been largely missing this season.

The Yankees' catcher got off to an excellent start -- through May 16, he was batting .326 on the year. But then he missed 15 games with a hairline fracture in his right foot. He's batting .222 since returning from the disabled list on June 2.

On the season, Posada is now hitting .258, with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs. If the season ended today, that would be his lowest batting average since 1999, his second full year in the big leagues.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked about Posada prior to Monday's game.

"[Posada's] hit some rockets," Girardi said. "I'm not concerned about his bat."

But it's hard to ignore that Posada's batting average decline has lasted for over two months now, largely uninterrupted.

His backup, Francisco Cervelli, has a similar batting average -- .255, with no homers and 31 RBIs -- so there's no pressure on Girardi to make a change right now.

In fact, the manager made it official on Saturday -- he's employing a catching rotation. For the most part, Posada will catch when three Yankees pitchers start: CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte (or Dustin Moseley, who's filling in for the injured Pettitte right now). Cervelli will catch when A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez pitch.

Girardi was asked to explain the catching rotation again on Monday.

"We've talked about making sure that [Posada's] healthy and rested," Girardi said. "Keep Jorgie healthy is the bottom line."

He seems healthy right now, for the most part. He has been bothered by a cyst behind his left knee of late, but he has played in every game in August so far. Posada had the knee wrapped in ice after Monday's game, but when asked how the knee felt, he said, "Good, good."

But it wasn't a very good day for Posada. And with the catcher turning 39 years old a week from Tuesday, you can't help but wonder, how many really good days does he have left?