After a 13-game stretch against sub-.500 opponents, the Yanks got a step up in competition this past weekend when the Oakland A's came to town and took 2 out of 3. It was a close, competitive series in which the Yanks showed flashes of all the things that have made them successful thus far: good starting pitching, timely hitting, power, and solid defense. But unlike games against Houston or Toronto, those flashes weren't enough to get the job done in two close games and weren't enough to overcome the continued erosion of the 25-man roster due to injuries. In the same way this past weekend's series showed us that the Yankees still have steps to take this season, it also showed us how difficult those steps can be when your team is this beat up. It started with the A-Rod surgery, then the ST injuries to C-Grand and Teix, and the setback and further setback with Jeter's ankle. And that was all before the season started. Since the games started counting, there's been no slowing down of this injury plague. Phil Hughes had his back problems, Andy had and might still be having his if you want to read into the poor results of his last two starts. Kevin Youkilis has been put on the DL with a back injury that could already be set up to be a storyline for the rest of the season. All of that would have been enough to bury any team, especially one as weakened as the Yankees appeared to be, and yet they soldiered on.
Then it was a double whammy of losing Francisco Cervelli and Ivan Nova in the same game. Then Joba Chamberlain hit the DL with an oblique strain, and David Robertson has missed a few days with tightness in his hamstring. Eduardo Nunez, someone who's already missed a few games this year because of HBPs, became the latest casualty yesterday when he strained his ribcage taking practice swings in the on-deck circle. You hate to start going to the cliche well and bringing up things like "the baseball gods," but at some point you have to start wondering when enough is enough here.
The Yankees are off today as they travel out west to start a three-game series in Colorado on Tuesday. They'll be heading out there with a 25-man roster that's really more like 23 depending on how much better one extra day makes D-Rob and Nunez feel. This team is stretched so thin right now that they willingly traded for a player in Chris Nelson who might not be any better than what they already have on the left side of their infield just because they needed a warm body. They've got Ichiro hitting 5th in their lineup right now. They've got Nix hitting 6th. They've got Boone Logan pitching the 8th inning, with a middle relief duo of Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne in front of him. They've got what should be 40% of their Triple-A starting rotation working as long relievers. And yes, as if things couldn't get any worse, they still have Ben Francisco as a member of the active roster.
I could really pile on here and mention how things like bad luck (David Adams being released and then unavailable to be called up to replace Youkilis), bad timing (Ronnier Mustelier's late ST injury), and bad decisions (Francisco over Juan Rivera) have combined to make the situation even tougher but I'm not going to do that. Instead I'm just going to try and stay positive and hope that none of these newest injuries are anything serious because honestly, what else is there to do? The Yanks are still staying competitive, they're 6 games over .500, and they're only a game and a half out of 1st place. If you would have told me that's where they'd be after suffering all the injuries they have so far, I'd be pretty happy with that. Still, it'd be nice to have a week without any more injuries.