Yanks’ offensive woes cost Tanaka 1st loss in 11 starts

Game by game as the Yankees’ offense continues to sputter fans have to wonder when their team will hit rock bottom. Technically, that was back after the games of May 5 when the Yankees’ record was 9-17. A 13-5 run that included a six-game winning streak got the Yankees back to .500 at 22-22 May 24, but they have been free falling again in losing six of the past eight games.

A new version of rock bottom has come on the current trip as the Blue Jays finished off a three-game sweep at Toronto’s Rogers Centre Wednesday night with a 7-0 victory that handed Masahiro Tanaka his first loss of the season in 11 starts. The loss was tagged to Tanaka, but it was hardly his fault.

The righthander allowed only one earned run in six innings. An error by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury led to an unearned run in the fifth. It was a 2-0 game when Tanaka departed before the Blue Jays put up a five-spot in the seventh off Kirby Yates and Nick Goody on two-run singles by Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Smoak book-ending an RBI double by Michael Saunders.

The feeble Yankees offense had scant chance to come back from that. They left nine runners on base and were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position as they sustained their fourth shutout loss of the season. It was an unproductive series in general for the Yankees, who had two hits in 20 at-bats (.100) with runners in scoring position, neither of which scored a run but merely advanced a runner one base each.

This offensive malaise has hit epidemic proportions for the Yankees on the 2-5 trip in which one of their two victories came in a game in which they had just one hit. And if there is any finger-pointing to do, Yankees fans would need both hands to count the culprits.

Apart from Ellsbury (.320/.407/.493 last month) and Carlos Beltran (nine doubles, eight home runs in May), who had two hits apiece in the series finale, the Yankees’ failures with the bats have been top to bottom in the lineup. The collective slump has a come at a time when the pitching has kept the team in games for the most part, including Wednesday night for six innings at least.

Most glaring, however, has been the relative quiet of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the power duo that carried the Yankees in the first half last year. After the Yankees’ 52nd game of 2015, which was also June 1, A-Rod and Tex were batting a combined .257 with 18 doubles, one triple, 26 home runs and 66 RBI in 343 at-bats. The Yanks’ record was 27-25. Through 52 games this season, the pair have teamed to hit .181 with nine doubles, no triples, nine homers and 18 RBI in 254 at-bats. The Yanks’ record is 24-28.

Again, it is not fair to level all the blame on just those two aging sluggers. There are plenty of others who have yet to live up to expectations.

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