Goodbye First Place

Third straight loss drops Yankees into third place

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Aug 4, 2010  |  Updated 8:30 AM EDT
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Goodbye First Place

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For 29 teams in the major leagues, a three game losing streak is an unfortunate but unavoidable fact of life. And then there are the Yankees, for whom such a spell is cause for overreactions and jumping to conclusions. 

The Yankees lost their third straight on Tuesday night to the Blue Jays by an 8-2 count, a loss that could be explained by any number of reasonable observations. There's the fact that Joe Girardi started Marcus Thames, Austin Kearns and Francisco Cervelli on the same night while leaving Jorge Posada on the bench against a lefty. There's the fact that Andy Pettitte's injury meant Dustin Moseley was the starting pitcher and the fact that he was unable to escape innings unscathed after getting two outs.

More than anything there was Ricky Romero, the Jays lefty who allowed two hits and one walk en route to a complete game victory. Romero's success followed a very familiar blueprint to anyone who has paid attention to the Yankees this year. He threw 76 strikes out of 118 pitches, most of which were off-speed with changeups accounting for the majority of those. That's been the best plan for any pitcher facing the Yankees this season, Romero used it to beat them once earlier this season, and you can expect to keep seeing it until the Yankees prove they can win against pitchers employing it. 

Naturally, that's not the take of New York's proud baseball writers. The reason for the Yankees losing skid? A-Rod, of course.

He pulled a pretty classic bit of nonsense on Tuesday when he failed to show up for the team photo shoot, forcing the team to use a stand-in who will be photoshopped out of the snap later. 

That became ammunition for Tim Smith of the Daily News who writes "we have to figure out whether this loss to the Blue Jays had anything to do with Alex Rodriguez missing the team photo before the game." You'd guess he was joking, except that he also writes that the quest for the 600th home run is dragging the whole team down. Kevin Kernan of the Post mines the same shallow, shallow water. "The milestone has become a millstone around the neck of A-Rod and the Yankees," Kernan writes and rational men weep.

A-Rod has been terrible recently but that doesn't begin to explain why the Yankees are scuffling. If it did, the Yankees would be nowhere near the division lead, let alone comfortably ahead in the Wild Card race because Rodriguez hasn't been particularly good all season.

The Yankees are struggling because all teams struggle at one point or another. The sun will rise again regardless of when A-Rod hits his next homer.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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