Yanks' new low could go even lower

NEW YORK -- The Yankees hit a new low Wednesday night with their seventh loss in the past nine games, but the expiration time on this one might end a little after 4 p.m. on Thursday. By then, with another loss to the lowly Astros, they could be swept by Houston.

This was supposed to be a week to rally in the wild-card race, to take advantage of the Astros and then the White Sox. Instead, the Yankees have dropped the first two and now will be lucky to win half their games on the six-game homestand.

They are five out for the second wild card. Joe Girardi said he wasn't managing a "farewell tour" for Derek Jeter, but that is exactly what he could very well have by September.

The manager is out of answers. He lamented that with names such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Jeter, how could this offense be so bad? He has never seen anything like it.

"I'm not sure for this period of time, no," said Girardi when asked if he had seen a big-name lineup struggle for this long. "It is part of the game. As I keep saying, you have to find ways to get it done."

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Girardi was even soliciting advice from a reporter who asked about shaking up the lineup.

"We've talked about this before, what would you like me to do?," Girardi said.

A reporter suggested that Ellsbury is miscast as a No. 3 hitter.

"Then what do I do?" Girardi said. "Gardy has been pretty good in the 1-slot. Ellsbury has done a pretty good job in the 3-spot. We have been forced to do it because of some of the things that have happened physically here. You can think about putting him one, then where do you put Gardy?"

Maybe in the 2-spot in place of Jeter?

"You can think about doing that, but then where are you going to put Jeet?" Girardi said. "Those three guys have probably been our most consistent hitters all year long. You definitely don't want lefties back-to-back."

So you are not thinking about a lineup shakeup?

"No," Girardi said. "I'm not thinking about moving those guys."

Though it doesn't make logical sense, I would probably try a "lighten-the-mood" lineup with Ellsbury leading off, Teixeira hitting second, Gardner third and Jeter at cleanup. It might allow this offense to relax, and maybe the scoreboard would change with it.

As for Jeter, we know he's a legend, but if your third-most-consistent hitter is 40 years old with a .641 OPS, you are in trouble.

Girardi knows it. His team doesn't score, so it can't win. It doesn't matter if Scott Feldman is on the mound or Mike Scott.

"We have to score more than two runs," Girardi said. "It is hard to win when you only score two runs."

They are five back of the Tigers in the wild-card race. They go play three in Detroit next week. By the time they get there, it might not even matter.

"The bottom line is we can't worry about who is in front of us," Girardi said. "If we don't play better, we can't get there. We need to play better."

At the moment, they are just trying to avoid new lows. The next one could be just hours away.