NEW YORK -- Maybe this one was mostly about Jon Lester. Maybe the reason that Carlos Beltran and the New York Yankees had a tough night at the plate Saturday was that Lester can still be one of baseball's better pitchers.
"He's one of the best left-handers in the game," Beltran said after the Yankees' 2-1 loss to Lester and the Boston Red Sox.
New York Yankees
True, but the Yankees have had far too many nights like this against far too many pitchers who aren't Jon Lester. Carlos Beltran has had far too many nights like this.
A week after the big game-winning home run against the Baltimore Orioles that some hoped would turn around Beltran's season, the veteran is slumping again. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Saturday against Lester and reliever Koji Uehara, and he's 2-for-25 since the home run off Zach Britton.
"You know what, I don't feel happy with my performance," said Beltran, who has a .209 batting average and .675 OPS through his first 53 games as a Yankee. A year ago with the St. Louis Cardinals, Beltran batted .296 with an .830 OPS; his career numbers are .281 and .850.
Beltran has been playing with a right elbow injury that sent him to the disabled list for three weeks in late May and early June and has prevented him from playing the outfield since then. The injury affects his throwing much more than his hitting, but he admitted Saturday night that there are times when he has been limited in his pregame work.
Beltran said he's not close to asking out of the lineup -- "It's nothing I can't tolerate," he said -- and he insisted the elbow isn't the reason for his poor performance.
"It's just right now, things aren't going well," he said. "I just need to put good at-bats together. Right now, one day I put good at-bats together, the next day I don’t."
None of the Yankees put good at-bats together Saturday night. Their only run against Lester was unearned, coming in the third inning without a hit and with the help of a Stephen Drew error. The Yankees didn't get their first hit until Brett Gardner's leadoff single in the sixth, and Gardner was then thrown out trying to steal.
The Yankees' best scoring chance after the third inning came later in the sixth, when singles by Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury gave them runners at first and second with one out. But Mark Teixeira flied out to shallow right field, and Beltran struck out.
In all, the Yankees had just five hits, all singles. They were held homerless for the 11th time in 37 home games.
Compare that to 2009, the first year in the new Yankee Stadium, when the Yankees were held homerless in just eight home games all season.
Beltran was signed to provide power, but the home run off Britton is still Beltran's only home run at home since April 16.
So even if Saturday night was mostly about Jon Lester, Beltran's struggles -- and the Yankee struggles at the plate -- are more serious than that.