Yankees Learn It's Hard to Win With Half a Team

Rivera getting beaten isn't the reason for concern

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010  |  Updated 8:15 AM EDT
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Yankees Learn It's Hard to Win With Half a Team

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The fact that the Yankees even made it to the 10th inning before losing to the Rangers on Tuesday night was something of a victory.

Seriously. What bet would you have placed on the game before it got underway given the realities of the situation? A.J. Burnett was starting for the first time since getting skipped with back spasms and he's hardly the most reliable cat under the best of circumstances. Mark Teixeira was back in New York with his newborn son, Robinson Cano was battling the sniffles and Jorge Posada had a shoulder irritation that left him available only in an emergency.

That left Marcus Thames and Austin Kearns sandwiched around Alex Rodriguez in the middle of the order and left the Yankees with an underpowered offense against a very good Rangers team. It's not surprising, then, that the lineup couldn't convert several golden scoring chances over the course of the game, wasting a night when good A.J. showed up and held the Rangers to three runs over seven innings. That left things in the hands of Mariano Rivera in the 10th and he wound up a loser in Texas for the first time in his career. 

Oh no! The mighty Mariano is crumbling! Woe is me!

Not so much. Two dinky hits and a strange intentional walk loaded the bases before David Murphy singled home the winning run. Disappointing, but hardly a sign of terrible things to come. What's more, the mere fact that Rivera was in the game is something to cheer about. Like most managers, Joe Girardi normally loathes using his closer without the almighty save on the table but he went down with his best pitcher Tuesday night. 

Save your worries for the fact that Posada has once again proven to have the general health of an ICU patient. We've long ago stopped keeping track of Posada's ailments as has anyone who doesn't get reimbursed by an insurance company when they pop up. But you don't need the full list to know that this represents a real threat to the Yankees.

As long as Posada is catching, he's going to keep getting hurt. The Yankees roster construction requires him to catch to be in the lineup, something that needs to be addressed after the season regardless of Posada's oft-stated desire to be behind the plate. For this season, the Yankees are stuck which means that a long-term Posada absence would really damage the Yankees chances at a repeat. His bat is too important and Francisco Cervelli is too far below average to think otherwise.

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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