It's pretty clear that things aren't going as planned for the Yankees when the three heroes of the week are Kevin Russo, Marcus Thames and Javier Vazquez. It's even more clear when two of those three players wound up in the trainer's room shortly after pulling off their heroic feats.
Those stumbling blocks are just the tip of the iceberg the Yankees ran themselves into while losing five of their last seven games.
All of those losses have a lot more to do with four-fifths of the rotation pitching poorly in the last turn, and the fact that no one knows what to expect any time a reliever comes trotting through the bullpen door. They have more to do with the fact that Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano didn't drive in a run between them at Citi Field and that Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner chose to regress toward the mean at the exact same moment.
The most troubling aspect of these failings is that no one but Cervelli is playing a major role because of the injuries that have robbed the team of three starters. What's more, the guys who aren't supposed to be playing aren't actually causing too many problems. The Yankees hit five homers this week with Thames and Juan Miranda accounting for three of them. A-Rod was the guy who struck out with two on in the ninth on Sunday and the guy who grounded out with two on in the seventh on Saturday. Teixeira is the guy who has made people wistful for his April slump and the entire lineup has been awful with runners on base of late.
More than anything, though, the starting pitching bears the brunt of the blame for the recent slide. It's hard to win games when you don't pitch well and it's much easier to obscure other flaws when your starters are keeping the other team off the board. It's come as a shock because of how well those same four starters have pitched all season, but stretches like this happen and they tend to lead to ugly results.
So does the combination of a struggling lineup and a scuffling rotation mean that it is time to panic about the Bombers? It still feels too soon for that. Losing 10 of 15 games is enough reason to start working the worry beads a little bit more often, but keep those fingers off the panic button.
The Yankees are still tied for the second best record in the American League and they still have far too much talent to think that this is going to be their continued level of performance. There were worse skids than this last season and things remained on track. A bad week or two doesn't erase everything else that's gone right, even when the Red Sox, Rays and Mets are the ones who helped cause the bad week.