Swisher, Posada come up short again

NEW YORK -- The glaring issue of the New York Yankees' lack of offense took center stage late Friday night. With the first sellout crowd since Opening Day on its feet, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada were served an opportunity to begin scrubbing away their awful starts.

They could quiet the catcalls that are at the door to put someone else at designated hitter or find a new power-hitting corner outfielder by the trade deadline.

So there stood Swisher and Posada with their chance set on a tee in the eighth inning.

The Yankees were down two runs, with two men on and the tying run at second. All Swisher or Posada needed was a single.

Boston setup man Daniel Bard was throwing lasers through the cool air, but the ever-reliable Curtis Granderson had already caught up to one, nailing a triple. After an out, a walk and a hit-by-pitch, Swisher and Posada had their chance.

Swisher, who is sitting just above Mario Mendoza's line, had doubled earlier. He got the first crack but whiffed on a 2-2 outside fastball that blazed in at 99 mph.

Then Posada, who these days can only dream about being in the company of Mendoza, had his chance. He already had a single and a run scored in his pocket. Now, he had a chance to do something special.

Posada got up 3-0. On a 3-1, 98 mph fastball, Posada took, considering passing the baton to Russell Martin with the bases loaded, but plate ump Chris Guccione called a strike.

One pitch later, Bard pumped a fastball up to 101 mph and Posada meekly grounded to second.

It ended the inning, but -- even with the Yankees adding a run in the ninth -- it really finished the game.

The end is not here yet for Posada nor Swisher, but if they don't start hitting -- and soon -- could this be the beginning of the end? The Yankees are nearly a quarter through their season, and Posada and Swisher still look like they are swinging with doughnuts on their bats.

Of all the pressing questions that we have already run through about the Yankees' offense -- and there are plenty, as Robinson Cano's .285 batting average is the highest among regulars -- the most vital ones just might be about the DH and the right fielder.

Posada faced the media, taking responsibility and hoping his past can soon become his present.

"You have to trust yourself," said the 39-year-old Posada, whose average actually rose to .168 on Friday.

Swisher did not show in the postgame clubhouse.

The problem for the Yankees is when to pull the plug on Posada. And if they do, what will happen? If he doesn't hit well, doesn't run well and doesn't play the field, does Posada remain on the roster?

ESPN New York asked a top Yankees official this question the other day, and the official had no answers, because there is no good one right now.

Swisher is sitting in right field and desperately wants to own that real estate for a long time -- the Yankees can pick up a $10 million option for him next season. But with Swisher hitting .221 with two homers and 14 RBIs, that option is in question at this point.

Swisher's position is vulnerable, because where else are you going to improve the lineup? The infield and catcher are set, and the center fielder is the best player on the team at the moment. So it is either DH, left field (where Brett Gardner is playing better) or right.

Posada and Swisher are not alone, mind you. Mark Teixeira had chances to inflict damage in the eighth and the ninth and popped out both times. Teixeira showed up in the clubhouse and owned up, while pointing to the larger issue.

"We are not scoring a ton of runs like we are capable of," Teixeira said.

On the other side of the clubhouse, Alex Rodriguez put it even more succinctly.

"We have to learn to drop the hammer a little bit better," Rodriguez said.

Maybe the Yankees need to switch up their lineup and shake out the doldrums.

"We talk about things all the time that we could do," Joe Girardi said. "We will continue to discuss them."

Rodriguez added, "Hitting is contagious. Bad hitting is also contagious."

Posada and Swisher better start hitting soon or they might be quarantined.