The Offense Sputters in Jays Opener

With a guaranteed chance to gain on a wild card holder, the yankees can’t capitalize on early chances, and drop their opener with Toronto.

New York got four runners on in the first two innings off RA Dickey, but couldn’t drive any home. And last seasons NL Cy Young winner settled down from there to go 7 shutout innings.

Andy Pettitte was 3-0 in his previous 7 starts, and was big time once again. But a solo homer to Colby Rasmus in the fourth was all Toronto needed. The lefty veteran left down 1-0 after 6.2 solid innings. Shawn Kelley came in and finished off the 7th, but no before allowing a solo shot to Rajai Davis.

The offense couldn’t do anything in the final 2 innings, and lost for the 4th straight game. Pettitte falls to 10-10 on the year despite a good effort.

The late season loss also meant losing more ground. The Orioles beat the Red Sox while the Indians came back to beat the Royals. The Rays lost, so the bombers remain 3.5 games back for the final wild card spot.

11 games left to make what would be a remarkable comeback. It starts tonight. Phil Hughes looks to put his nightmare season behind him and help the bombers avoid a 5th straight loss.

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The Captain Returns (Again)

Now batting… number 2. Derek Jeter.

Yes, the captain is back off this 3rd DL stint of a trying 2013 season.

Jeter will be batting second and playing short tonight against the Blue Jays.   Hearing that number 2 is back is nothing new for the Yankees and their fans, who’ve seen their leader play in just 5 games this season.  Jeter of course started the season on the DL after re-fracturing his ankle in spring training (the original injury happened in the ALCS against the Tigers last year).   The second injury (a quad strain) came in his first game back on 7/11 against Kansas City.  He would return 17 days later against Tampa, only to end up back on the disabled list on August 3rd with a calf strain.

Now here he is, back with a team just back 3.5 games back for a Wildcard spot in the American League.  Jeter’s return marks the first time all year that A-Rod, Jeter and Curtis Granderson, as well as the recently acquired Alfonso Soriano, will be in the lineup together.

It’s no secret that the injury bug has bit not only Jeter, but the entire Yankees team hard in 2013.  And at age 39, you have to hope this third return for Jeter doesn’t end the same way as the first two.  Shortstop has been a revolving door this season, and with the recent loss of Jayson Nix, another Jeter injury would not help the Yankees in their late season playoff push.  Eduardo Nunez, who was meant to take the majority of the reps at short when Jeter didn’t start the year, also spent time on the DL this season.  And since his own return, Nunez has been shaky defensively, having committed 10 errors in just 68 games.  He’s also only hitting .248, short of expectations.

To make room for Jeter’s return, reliever Preston Claiborne has once again been optioned down to Triple-A, though he’ll without a doubt be back next weekend when rosters expand on September 1st.  Some question why Claiborne, and not Chamberlain, who’s ERA is hovering around 4-and-a-half.   It’s simple.  Claiborne has options, while Chamberlain would have to be let go entirely, something the Yankees aren’t ready to do.  The organization would rather get something in return for the beleaguered reliever.

So it remains to be seen how Jeter will hold up the final 32 games, but for now, the Yankees are just happy to be able to pencil number 2 back into the lineup.  This team has fought through injuries all year, and have put themselves into a position to claw their way into the playoffs.

That push continues tonight against the last place Blue Jays, who the Yankees are 12-1 against this year.  Phil Hughes gets the ball for New York, coming off two straight solid outings.  R.A. Dickey looks to rebound from what was a very good outing against the Yanks, until he hung a knuckleball to Soriano in the 8th, which broke a 2-2 tie.