Lack of offense holding down Yankees

Pitching has been solid, but bats struggling to score on consistent basis

June 2nd, 2016

TORONTO -- The flip to a new month is bringing another batch of the same old results for the scuffling Yankees, who have been limited to five runs in their last four games. This trip has also delivered the startling realization that their season is almost a third complete.

Held to seven hits by Aaron Sanchez and three relievers in a 7-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday, the Yankees were swept for the third time this season, washing clean the positive vibes created by a six-game winning streak that sparked on the West Coast last month.

"It doesn't feel early," designated hitter Alex Rodriguez said. "Everybody in here feels frustrated. The pitching has done a phenomenal job keeping us in games and giving us an opportunity to win games. Collectively as a whole, we're just not getting the job done."

Masahiro Tanaka did his job, holding the Blue Jays' thunderous lineup to two runs (one earned) and seven hits over six innings, but he worked without support and the Yanks wasted the solid effort. New York has managed just 21 runs in nine games against Toronto this year.

"When you have your chances, you have to be able to cash in, and we haven't been able to do it lately," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Girardi has tried to shuffle the deck slightly, moving Mark Teixeira to fifth and batting Rodriguez sixth on Wednesday, but those rooting for wholesale changes are going to have a lengthy wait. Repeatedly, Girardi's mantra has been that the players in the room need to get it done.

"I tried to shake the order up," Girardi said. "I tried to play different guys; make sure guys are rested. The bottom line is, these are our guys, and they're capable of doing it. We're just not doing it right now."

A prolonged outage in the heart of the lineup doesn't help. The Yankees got a combined 64 home runs last season from Rodriguez and Teixeira, but their power has been largely absent in 2016. Hitting coach Alan Cockrell said that Rodriguez's fourth-inning double was a positive sign, while indicating that Teixeira is still playing far short of full strength.

"They're in the middle of our lineup. They will produce," Cockrell said. "Alex had really good at-bats tonight. He's worked hard the last two days; he worked harder when he was not in the lineup to make sure his swing was tight and short and on top of the baseball. With Tex, he's dealing with the neck and you don't know really how he feels. He wants to be in the lineup because that's just how he is."

Since battling back to .500 at 22-22 on May 24, the Yankees have lost six of eight to fall four games below the break-even mark.

"It's definitely very frustrating. We're kind of back to where we were three or four weeks ago," outfielder Brett Gardner said. "In this game, things happen in a hurry, and when things aren't going well, it seems to really snowball and almost be a little bit contagious."

The road trip doesn't get much easier from here, with the club flying to Detroit for a one-game makeup on Thursday -- sending struggling Michael Pineda to the hill against the Tigers' imposing bats -- before completing its journey with a three-game weekend series at Baltimore.

"The nice thing is, we've done it. We know what we're capable of doing," center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury said. "That's the positive we can take away from it. Hopefully we can get out of it tomorrow and get on a nice stretch and win some games, and give our pitchers a chance to win. We can't give them a chance to win if we don't score runs."