Commentary

Where did the O go against the O's?

Bombers' bats disappear as 3-4-5 hitters look positively lost in the Bronx

Updated: May 3, 2012, 2:25 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The good news was the New York Yankees had no trouble hitting with runners in scoring position on Wednesday. The bad news was they had no runners in scoring position.

So it went as the Baltimore Orioles' Jake Arrieta dominated the Yankees in a 5-0 shutout on a cold, wet night in the Bronx.

Alex Rodriguez
AP Photo/Kathy WillensAlex Rodriguez, who has gone from elite to great to now just good, looked awful in Wednesday's loss.

A Yankee did bat with a runner on first base 10 times, and each time was a failure. Over three days, the Yankees saw the Orioles' pitchers dominate their offense, taking two of three, while allowing a grand total of three runs.

"We are not swinging the bats very well," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

When you talk about the Yankees' offensive problems, you have to start with the heart of the order -- Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira -- who have looked like they did in October when they could not come up with a big hit to save the season.

It is fashionable to blame Rodriguez and Teixeira -- and they may be regressing further -- but at some point Cano has to be held accountable for his slow start. We are 24 games into the season and Cano has one homer and four RBIs. He is on pace for 27 RBIs this season.

Sure, Cano is probably due to go on a tear. But when, already?

Cano had been bandied about as a potential AL MVP candidate this year, and he is too young and too good not to get it going eventually.

Still, the fact is Cano is doing nothing right now. The two times he came up with a man on base Wednesday, he struck out. He did have a meaningless single in the seventh.

The Yankees' 3-4-5 hitters are not feared right now. On the season, when there is not a runner in scoring position, they are hitting .271 (60-for-221). When there is a runner in scoring position, they are at .203 (14-for-69). These days, when men are on base, you want the heart of the Yankees' order coming up -- if you are an opponent.

That is why Girardi should seriously think about moving Curtis Granderson into the 3, 4 or 5 spot because he is their most legit power threat. He hit a team-best 41 bombs last year and his nine this year are more than A-Rod, Teixeira and Cano combined. The trio has eight.

Granderson may not look the part. He may claim not be a home run hitter. But the ball keeps traveling over the fence. Hurt feelings or not, it is already time to move Granderson into one of the traditional power spots, where he belongs.

Girardi was evasive when asked directly if he would consider moving Granderson from the 2-hole to a power spot.

"The one thing that you want is your hottest guys hitting the most," Girardi said. "So if you start dropping him down, he gets less at-bats. Right now, we are not swinging the bats great collectively."

Rodriguez, 36, has probably moved from elite to great to now just good. Rodriguez is by no means dead weight, but he doesn't seem to have the dominant skills that propelled him to more than a half-billion dollars in career earnings.

He will still get some numbers, but Wednesday he had trouble again when the Yankees needed him. After putting up a couple of singles in his first two at-bats and appearing as though he might be locked in, he entered his third at-bat with a man on and the Yankees down by two in the sixth. The first pitch A-Rod saw, he hit into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.

Meanwhile, Teixeira's inability to hit dominant starters showed up again on Wednesday. Arrieta had a lot working for him, including a 95-mph fastball, and Teixeira looked overmatched, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. His average is down to .226.

At the end of his postgame interview session, Teixeira had a long coughing spell and mentioned he has been sick for three weeks. He doesn't feel like he has been right since the beginning of the Boston series 10 days ago.

"We are better than we have shown the last three days," Teixeira said.

They can't be much worse. They are living and dying by the home run again, which made the cold, damp night at Yankee Stadium feel like October. Last October.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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