Commentary

Jays fans are right: The Yanks stink

Hapless Bombers, punchless in pinstripes, lose again and fall to fourth place

Updated: May 18, 2012, 9:12 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

TORONTO -- Forget the names. Forget the paychecks. Forget that they are the New York Yankees.

Why exactly should we think these Yankees are better than they have played?

Nearly a quarter of the way through the season, they are 20-18 -- and they have earned that record. Right now, they are a classic two-games-above-.500, fourth-place club.

When they hit, they don't pitch. When they pitch, they don't hit.

[+] EnlargeMark Teixeira
Abelimages/Getty ImagesMark Teixeira, who is not right -- at the plate or with his health -- needs a break.

Man, they don't hit. Especially in the clutch. In the past five games, they have three hits in 41 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Alex Rodriguez was off Thursday, so the sickly Mark Teixeira again was the front man for this tired act.

Not once. Not twice. But three times, Teixeira came up with men in scoring position.

Strikeout. Flyout. Popout.

It helped cement the Blue Jays' two-game sweep.

So what exactly is this team? Why should anyone think these Yankees are going to survive in baseball's best division?

"I think we know who we are," manager Joe Girardi said before the Yankees left another eight men on base in their 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays. "I don't think we have played up to our ability."

Teixeira doesn't look like a $180 million player. He looks like Keith Hernandez on defense and Dave Kingman on offense. He sounds like he should be filming a cold-and-flu commercial.

Teixeira's voice is raspy and his cough is incessant. During the sixth inning, he looked as though he might fall over, he was hacking so hard at first base.

Teixeira said he and Girardi will talk over what to do about his respiratory issues that have lingered for more than a month. Girardi said he would give Teixeira a day off if he thought it would help. After four checkups and just nine hits in 44 at-bats with runners in scoring position (.205), it is time to tell Teixeira to take a break.

Maybe the Yankees should have Teixeira rest the whole weekend, stay in bed, eat some chicken noodle soup and come back Monday. That may be extreme, but Teixeira is not right -- at the plate or with his health.

"If you could guarantee me it would make me feel better, I would love that guarantee," said Teixeira, who is hitting .228 with five homers and 20 RBIs. "I just don't know if it is going to help. So we'll see."

As a way to defend Teixeira, Girardi pointed out that his first baseman isn't the only Yankees batter who has stunk when it has mattered most.

"Tex seems to be the focus today," Girardi said. "We have a lot of guys hitting around .200 with runners in scoring position. It is not just Tex. As a team, collectively, we are not getting it done."

That is what might be most alarming about this club. A-Rod is not hitting with authority, which is shortening the Yankees' lineup and making them miss Brett Gardner and the defensively challenged Eduardo Nunez even more. Gardner, who will pick up a bat this weekend, is still on the DL with his elbow strain. There is no timetable for his return.

So just like what killed them last year in the playoffs, the Yankees are an all-or-nothing team, a home run or an out.

The pitching is improving, but it is still not inspiring. The bullpen has been amazingly good, but how long will that last with Mariano Rivera and David Robertson out?

The starting pitching has been better of late, but who can dominate besides CC Sabathia? Hiroki Kuroda is having a seesaw season -- one good start, one bad. Ivan Nova gives up too many hits. Andy Pettitte, who starts Friday, is still a mystery, with his 40th birthday next week. And Phil Hughes is a No. 5 starter.

Hughes had his third pretty good start against the Jays, but he is not what the Yankees projected him to be when he was an All-Star in 2010. On Thursday, he had only his fastball, so his pitch count rose as he allowed just two runs in 5 1/3 innings. There is still no proof that Hughes is more than a No. 5, maybe a No. 4. After giving up a two-run homer to Jose Bautista, Hughes is the first Yankee ever to give up a home run in each of his first eight starts, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Rays, Orioles and Jays are all hungry young teams. The Red Sox have had problems since the gun went off and are just two games worse than the Yankees. Granted, the season is still young.

"You would drive yourself crazy if you started looking at the scoreboard in the middle of May," captain Derek Jeter said. "I don't see anybody popping Champagne in the middle of May. Just like I don't see anyone hanging their heads in the middle of May."

After seeing every team in the division, does Girardi think his club has the best roster?

"I think we can compete with anyone," he said, not really answering the question. "Saying it and going out and doing it are always two different things."

That is true. The Yankees' 20-18 record is a half-game better than the A's. Oakland was supposed to be one of the worst teams in baseball. That is the company the Yankees are keeping these days.

On Thursday at the Rogers Centre, toward the end of the game, the Blue Jays fans sang that very popular out-of-town chant, "The Yankees [stink]! The Yankees [stink]! The Yankees [stink]!"

And right now, they're right.

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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