Yankees' offense simply not enough

NEW YORK -- Wait long enough, and they score a run.

One run. Not enough.

And unless things change, that could well be the story of this New York Yankees season. For all the money they spent last winter trying to fix an offense gone bad, the Yankees still don't score enough runs.

After a shutout loss Saturday and an almost-shutout Sunday, the Yankees are averaging exactly four runs a game. You know how many runs that fatally flawed Yankees team averaged last season? Four runs a game.

Not enough.

Jacoby Ellsbury's two-out home run in the ninth inning Sunday kept alive one Yankee streak, as they've now gone 2,512 games since the last time they were blanked in back-to-back games (in May 1999 by the Angels). They're the only team in the majors that hasn't suffered back-to-back shutouts even once this century.

And a lot of good that will do them if they're shut out of the playoffs for a second straight October.

The danger is all the more real after a 4-3 homestand that began with three impressive wins over the Detroit Tigers but ended with two lifeless losses against the Cleveland Indians. The Yankees could spend all the time they wanted crediting Indians starters Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, but the fact is that this team's offensive troubles have been too long-lasting to simply write them off as the effect of seeing good pitching.

"We haven't been great all year," said Mark Teixeira, who returned to the lineup for Sunday's 4-1 loss to Carrasco. "We need to pick it up a little bit."

The Yankees would like to see this week's series in Baltimore as their chance to make up ground on the first-place Orioles -- and make an impact on the American League East race. They play 10 of their remaining 45 games against Baltimore, which is a good thing if they can beat them and get back in the race -- but not so good if they can't find a way to start scoring runs.

They did have a 10-run game on Friday night, one they hoped might be the start of something big. Instead, the Yankees followed it up with a pair of games in which they had 10 total hits and never even advanced a runner as far as third base until Ellsbury's consolation homer off Indians closer Cody Allen.

They allowed Carrasco to break a string of 17 consecutive winless starts, and yet they wanted us to believe that maybe we shouldn't have expected more out of them.

"He was 96, 97 [mph] with a lot of movement, and he threw strikes," Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said. "He was good. He was really good."

Yankee starter Hiroki Kuroda wasn't. Kuroda had little command and was actually fortunate to make it through 4 2/3 innings and to allow just three runs. But as Yankee manager Joe Girardi said, it hardly mattered what Kuroda did, with what little his hitters were doing.

Eventually, the Yankees did score a run. One run.

Not enough.