NEW YORK -- The 2013 Yankees are a lot like their captain -- they are tough, but they keep on breaking down.
Derek Jeter and his team are hurting, their season is approaching the brink, but there is no telling yet if they are completely done. Joe Girardi lifted Jeter because he noticed that the captain was running a little funny on his surgically repaired left ankle. The Yankees sent Jeter for a CT scan, which they said was negative. There is no word on when he might play again.
With a .190 average and limited range, his loss is as much symbolic as anything else because he has not been the same legendary player in his first 17 games of his season. Still, if the Yankees are going to have a chance, they need everyone.
The Yankees are 142 games into the season and are 75-67 following their epic back-to-back meltdowns with a crushing loss by an overmatched pitching staff. The Yankees lost 13-9 to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, but the final tally had the same cosmetics of an NBA team making a late fourth-quarter run, only to fall short. They were down 12-3 after five.
While they are on the verge of being swept in a punishing fashion by their rivals, the Yankees' season is still not over, even if it feels that way. There are 20 games to go and the Yankees enter Sunday 2½ games behind the Rays for the second wild card. The Rays lost to the Mariners on Saturday night.
In their final three games at home, Sept. 24-26, the Yankees play the Rays. Then they finish the season with three against baseball's worst team, the Houston Astros. So if the Yankees are in striking distance at that point, they could provide some excitement in this 2013 season.
Their lineup looks up for the task. In the past three games against Boston, they have scored a total of 25 runs. The problem is they have allowed a historic amount of runs.
The Red Sox have scored nine or more runs in the each of the first three games. This is the first time this has happened by a visiting team in these parts since the Yankees were called the Highlanders, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Back in 1912, the Red Sox dropped nine or more runs in four games. The old Cleveland Naps did it for three in 1911.
On Sunday, the Yankees turn to Hiroki Kuroda to avoid the sweep.
New York Yankees
Overall, the focus of the pitching failures has been on CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes, but it is time for Kuroda to again pitch like a No. 2 starter, if not an ace. In his first 24 starts, Kuroda had a 2.33 ERA. In his past four starts, that number has been 7.43. The Red Sox have beaten Kuroda three of four times this season.
On Saturday, lefty David Huff was overmatched by Boston. He retired the side in order in the first with two strikeouts, but then he couldn’t escape an inning without severe scrapes. He would leave with one out in the fourth and ultimately would be charged with nine runs (all earned) on eight hits. It is hard to imagine that Thursday in Baltimore, the Yankees will not return Phil Hughes to the rotation. Girardi was noncommittal.
The plague that infested the Yankees’ bats the first few months has now infected their arms. Hughes’ ineffectiveness led to Huff starting, but there could have been other options if not for injuries.
Behind Huff, the Yankees did not have much support. David Robertson's shoulder is aching, Boone Logan's left arm is sore and Shawn Kelley's triceps kept him out one more day, while Hughes and Joba Chamberlain have dislocated their potential.
The Yankees are falling apart, which has been the story of Jeter's season. The captain received some good news late on Saturday afternoon, but there still is no telling when he can return.
"There is no time for the wary here," Brian Cashman said. "He is the king of toughness."
He and his team better be, if there is going to a run to October this fall.