High RISP, low reward: Yanks seeking spark

Club 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, strands eight in loss to A's

April 20th, 2016

NEW YORK -- When Alex Rodriguez's first-inning RBI single found a safe landing spot in the outfield grass on Tuesday, the Yankees had reason to believe that their ongoing troubles with runners in scoring position had finally come to an end.

Three-plus hours later, having absorbed a 3-2, 11-inning loss to the Athletics at Yankee Stadium, they were heading back to the drawing board. Rodriguez's hit proved to be their only knock in seven RISP opportunities as they left eight men on base against Eric Surkamp and five relievers.

"Today we felt that we were going to have a pretty good chance against the lefty [Surkamp] they had on the mound," Carlos Beltran said. "We scored two, but we couldn't get the hits with guys in scoring position. That's something that has been a pain lately."

Both teams in this series have been struggling with runners in scoring position, perhaps hinting at the likelihood of Tuesday's low-scoring, extra-inning affair. The A's are now hitting .224 (24-for-107) in such situations, while the Yankees are hitting just .206 (22-for-107).

"You tell the guys, keep putting them on and eventually it's going to change," manager Joe Girardi said. "Make sure you have good at-bats. Don't try to do too much, just keep the line moving. It doesn't have to be a home run, just put a good swing on the ball and you take your chances."

For the home club, it has become a tired storyline. New York wasted Brett Gardner's leadoff double in the third, saw Rodriguez pop up with two men on to end the fifth, and had Gardner line out to first base after a wild pitch moved both runners up in the sixth.

"As soon as you get a guy in scoring position, you always want to get the job done," Didi Gregorius said. "For us, we've been lacking in that right now. We're trying to fight our way through, trying to get back on the positive side."

Didi sparkles on D, laments misses in clutch

They went quietly the rest of the way, with Chase Headley's ninth-inning single -- and pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury's subsequent caught stealing -- standing as their only dents against the Oakland bullpen. That left Girardi hoping that Wednesday will be the day everything turns.

"You have to make sure their approach is good and don't try to do too much," Girardi said. "One guy is not going to bail us out, but sometimes it can be a broken-bat hit that changes things, and all of a sudden the floodgates open. But right now, we're not getting it."