Yankee winning streaks often feature different parts of the team or individual players stepping up night after night to bring the team wins. It makes sense, then, that their losing streaks would be marked by the exact opposite state of affairs.
The Yankees lost three games in Texas and each night they saw a different part of the team let them down. On Friday night, it was an inability to come up with hits with men on base and a poor start by Javier Vazquez that contributed to a 13-inning loss. Saturday was marked by some bizarre managerial decisions by Joe Girardi and one of the rare disaster appearances you'll have to swallow to get Mariano Rivera's ordinary brilliance. And Sunday was about Cliff Lee shutting down the offense long enough for Dustin Moseley to come apart at the seams.
The only saving graces of the entire weekend were that the Rays lost Sunday to preserve the Yankees lead in the East and the fact that Jeff Francoeur had the game-winning RBI on Saturday night. The pain that must cause Mets fans dealing with the brutal reality of Johan Santana's injury is worth a few smiles amid the pain.
Not many smiles, though. If not for Nick Swisher's walk-off homer on Wednesday afternoon, the Yankees would be losers of seven in a row right now. The daily inability of the team to fire on all or even most cylinders is becoming a concern because their problems are starting to feel a bit more systemic than just a bad week of baseball.
Girardi's lineup on Sunday didn't feature Swisher, Alex Rodriguez or Brett Gardner because of various aches and pains. Every day there seems to be someone who needs to be on the bench because of fatigue or injury. That doesn't figure to just stop happening because the Yankees aren't going to stop being an older team without much depth. They need to ride their regulars now and will have to continue riding them all the way through the postseason if they want to have any hope of repeating. That's why Swisher's been trying to fight a bruised knee for almost three weeks and it is why Gardner will likely be in the lineup this week if an MRI shows anything less than a surgical need in his long-ailing wrist.
And that's just the lineup. The rotation issues are well known and this weekend provided a reminder that bullpen success can be fleeting. Things are trending downward, which is hardly where you want them to be when you're walking into Tampa with first place on the line.