It's been true all season long. The Yankees have not hit well in so-called "clutch" situations. They were horrendous with runners in scoring position early in the year, and despite getting better at it lately, are still decidedly below average compared to the rest of the American League.
And with the bases loaded, they have been even worse. Since they also lead MLB in home runs, in a lot of games, it hasn't made a difference. And in some games, it has made all the difference in the world.
Consider today's 8-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays a clear case of the latter.
In five innings, the Yankees stranded at least one runner in scoring position. In two innings, they got a leadoff double and failed to get the runner home. And in an inning that was a microcosm of this particular aspect of their season, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning -- and saw all three baserunners die out there when two of their best hitters, Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano, struck out.
In fact, Cano, their best all-around hitter, was the worst offender of all today, striking out three times and stranding six baserunners. But he was hardly alone. Swisher stranded three with his bases-loaded K. Derek Jeter stranded a couple, including an inning-ending strikeout in the sixth with the tying run on third, and an inning-ending fly out to right with a runner on second in the eighth.
Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Chavez, Chris Stewart, Steve Pearce (today's DH) and Curtis Granderson all stranded a pair each, but at least Granderson also had three RBIs. In all, the Yankees were 3-17 w/RISP, dropping their team-wide season average to .251, 11 points below the league average, and 0-2 with the bases loaded, dropping their average in that most advantageous situation to .211. (The league average is .276.)
"It’s part of the game," said Andruw Jones, today's cleanup hitter who delivered an RBI single in the first inning and struck out with a runner on second in seventh. "Sometimes you’re going to struggle in ways. We were on a good streak for a while, and we scored a lot of runs, and right now, we’ve cooled down a little bit."
And their futility in the area of situational hitting was practically mocked right before their eyes when the Blue Jays squeezed home a run in the eighth inning, a play the Yankees have neither executed nor attempted in Joe Girardi's entire five-year managerial tenure. They are now 4-19 in games in which they fail to hit a home run.
"We just didn't get it done," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. We had a ton of chances. You can go back early in the game, and we had chances. We didn't get it done."
John Farrell, his Toronto counterpart, was more on point. "Their offense is clear what it is," he said. "It centers around the home run. ... That's not to take anything away from them. You play to the strength of your roster. I can't say that the small game has any adverse effect across the field."
Except, of course, when they try to play it.