The injured starting shortstop, third baseman and first baseman are not expected on the field soon, and the outfielder who had 43 home runs last season Curtis Granderson is in Florida rehabilitating after an injury. Sunday’s lineup had only one legitimate preseason All-Star candidate Robinson Cano and two players who were released during spring training this year. Even General Manager Brian Cashman, who broke his leg in a sky-diving accident, is still on the mend. Yet the Yankees, with a 3-2 comeback win on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays, capped a four-game sweep of the team that was supposed to displace them in the standings, a team that stocked its roster in the off-season with a megatrade with the Miami Marlins and the acquisition of the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, R. A. Dickey.
The day after Sandy blew threw the city, I remember sticking my head out my back door. My “backyard” is never pretty, but I was struck by what the hurricane had wrought: A gobsmacking array of flotsam, including a badly dented five-gallon metal bucket.
The Yankees’ lineup is about the same. The one penciled in on Sunday had four retread veterans who were hastily added in the off-season — Lyle Overbay, Brennan Boesch, Vernon Wells (who last year got maybe the loudest boos of any opposing player) and Travis Hafner — and three guys who rode the bench last year — Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez and Chris Stewart.
It is a demoralizing roll call. Or as Manager Joe Girardi put it, “it’s a group that has something to prove.” For instance, that they still deserve to collect big-league salaries.
So far, though, we are chagrined to admit that this patchwork business has been a rousing success. The Yankees, whose disabled list remains swollen with injured All-Stars, were widely picked to finish last in the American League East. Instead, in this young season, they are 9-1 in games decided by two runs or fewer, according to The Associated Press. (Talk about your acts of God.)
“It’s hard to not notice that,” said the erratic and slightly pudgy pointy-nosed starter Phil Hughes.
In the other dugout Sunday were the last-place Blue Jays, who unlike the Yankees added several top free agents in the off-season and were a popular pick to win the division and much else.
But the remade Jays are just 9-17. According to The A.P., in the four games against the Yankees, the Blue Jays batted .166 with runners in scoring position and struck out 37 times over all.
“You want me to go out there and hit or something?” the Blues Jays manager, John Gibbons, said. “I couldn’t hit when I played.”
R. A. Dickey, the knuckleballing former Met, started for the Blue Jays on Sunday and ended up pitching pretty well, allowing three runs and four hits in seven innings. But it was Mr. Dickey’s fourth loss of the season, which is one more than he had all last year. That is what the statisticians call regressing to the mean.
And in what Casablancan police officers call a gross understatement, Mr. Dickey after the game acknowledged his struggles but assured reporters that he is fine — when he isn’t pitching. “It gets marginally better between starts,” he said. “It’s just that when I have to start it breaks down again.”
I am same way. I always do better after I leave the office.
The schedule is a fickle mistress.
- Overbay’s HR lifts Yankees to sweep of Jays (scores.espn.go.com)