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The Bronx Bombers are back? Hardly

NEW YORK -- Over the past week or so, the Yankees' lineup has had fewer hits than the 1910 Fruitgum Company, and the fact that they scored eight runs Wednesday night, on two long and timely home runs, doesn't suddenly make them the Rolling Stones.

The same way their surprisingly high win total through the first 50 games of this season masked a lot of roster holes, so does the offensive outburst -- no sarcasm intended -- they managed against the Kansas City Royals in their 8-1 victory serve as a smokescreen for a batting order that is still riddled with automatic outs.

Yes, it's "nice," to borrow Joe Girardi's word, to have a laugher once in a while, but don't go thinking that this one-night explosion will end the Yankees' offensive woes like a thunderstorm that breaks a summer heat wave.

The runs came courtesy mainly of two huge blows, Robinson Cano's three-run blast into the center-field loading dock in the third and Lyle Overbay's grand slam to the opposite field in the sixth.

But Cano is a great hitter who should probably never be pitched to in this lineup, especially with the struggling Travis Hafner hitting behind him, and Overbay was way overdue to hit a grand slam, not having left the park with the bases loaded in more than seven years.

Most importantly, the Royals' starting pitcher, Wade Davis, is a particular favorite patsy of both Cano and particularly Overbay, and this year has been one of the easiest starting pitchers to hit in the American League, with an opposing batting average of .322.

So before we get too crazy about this one big victory -- and after having watched the Yankees struggle to score a total of three runs in their previous three games, feel free to go a little crazy -- remember that when the Yankees take the field for Thursday afternoon's series finale, they will still have no .300 hitter in the lineup and a whole bunch of guys batting .250 and below.

That is why Girardi tempered his own enthusiasm after the game. Asked if he was "relieved or delighted" with the win, the manager chuckled before settling on "It's nice."

"I take it at a day-by-day basis," he said. "Obviously when you get a big lead, you can do some different things and use some different people. But I've said all along, we're going to have to win a lot of close games this year. We've been pretty good at it but it's nice to win a game 8-1."

The Yankees are 16-9 in one-run games this year, and that is nice. But they're not playing as many close games as the manager would like you to believe -- last season, they played 47 one-run games, this year they're on pace for about 44 -- nor does success in them necessarily translate to a good overall win/loss total.

Last year's Yankees, far more powerful and higher scoring than this year's, was 22-25 in one-run games, and they wound up winning 95 games.

Anyone want to bet on 95 wins for this year's team?

The fact is, the Yankees' offense still needs help, and fast. That probably means a trade deadline acquisition, because neither Alex Rodriguez nor Curtis Granderson nor Francisco Cervelli -- see what it's come down to? -- is likely to be much help for the next couple of weeks.

(Wednesday afternoon, Cashman ruled out any Yankee interest in Ty Wigginton, released on Tuesday by the Cardinals, but you may assume any other name you can imagine is in play.)

And it's probably too much to expect of Derek Jeter, now 39 years old and without having played in a major league game in nine months, to make that much of a difference right away, even if he is activated as early as Friday.

Before Wednesday's game, the normally buttoned-up Girardi flashed his cards when he was asked if he had considered shaking up his lineup in order to generate some more offense.

"What would you suggest?" he shot back, his words dripping with sarcasm.

It was as close as he will ever come to admitting that what he's got in his clubhouse is not going to be enough to get the job done.

Indeed, heading into Wednesday night's game, Girardi's bench consisted of Vernon Wells, who is hitting .242 and hasn't hit a home run since May 15; Alberto Gonzalez, who is hitting .194 and hasn't hit a home run since April 14; Travis Ishikawa, who is hitting .105 and hasn't hit a homer in more than a year; and Austin Romine, who doesn't seem to be able to hit anyone at this level. Romine has never hit a home run.

Obviously, you can't shake what you don't have, and right now, Girardi has virtually nothing.

And with Hafner, who is hitting .151 since his excellent April, possibly out for a while after bruising his foot in the batting cage between innings, Girardi loses one more (occasionally) dangerous bat.

That is why Girardi said it was "nice" to see a big home run out of Overbay, whose last grand slam was in 2006, but the unspoken end of the sentence was, "Don't get used to it."

You can, of course, get used to it with Cano, but why anyone chooses to pitch to him remains a mystery. Royals manager Ned Yost pointed out that Davis had gotten Cano to ground out in the first inning on the same pitch he hit out of the park in the third, but it's safe to say that was more a mistake on Cano's part than any brilliance from Davis.

And the problem is, the Yankees don't put enough men on base ahead of, or behind, Cano to make much a difference.

After leading the league in home runs (245) and finishing a close second in runs scored (804) last year, the Yankees are near the bottom in just about every offensive category this season.

They are second-to-last in the American League in team batting average (.242) and OPS (.680), ahead of only the Houston Astros. They are third from the bottom in on-base percentage (.304), ahead of the Astros and the Chicago White Sox. They share the cellar in slugging percentage with Houston (.377).

And they are behind 20 other major league teams in home runs (87), trailing even the Mets.

A game like the one they played against the Royals on Wednesday night used to be the norm, even for as flawed a team as last year's Yankees.

This year, it is a one-night aberration, a pleasant surprise in what had become a succession of ever-drearier offensive outages.

That is why, when asked to describe his feelings about his team's best offensive performance in two months (against a team not named the Minnesota Twins), Joe Girardi settled on the rather lukewarm "nice."

As in, "It's nice, but don't expect to see it every night."

Or many more nights this season, for that matter, unless he and his team get some help. And soon.