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In the bottom of the third inning against the Royals on Monday night, the Yankees loaded the bases with no one out and the heart of the order coming up.
Down 3-0 and riding a streak of five losses in six nights, this was a golden opportunity for the Yankees to wake up their slumbering offense. Put up a crooked number, put aside the concerns about the offense's meandering direction and get a victory that would quiet some doubters about the future of this team.
Like most of the golden opportunities that have come the Yankees' way in recent days, however, this one was destined to be wasted. Robinson Cano struck out, Alex Rodriguez struck out and Raul Ibanez flied out to the wall, allowing Felipe Paulino to escape the inning unscathed and propelling the Royals on their way to a 6-0 win.
Those three at-bats were part of an 0-for-13 evening with runners in scoring position for the Yankees, results that dropped them to 6 for their last 72 in such situations. The logical, rational part of the mind looks at numbers like that and sees a rough patch for a team filled with players who are far too good to have results like that over such a long stretch of time.
The less reasoned part of the mind is right there booing with the hardy souls that braved rain and another horrible Hiroki Kuroda first inning so that they could watch the Yankees fail time and time again with chances to score runs. That part of the mind wants to throw a brick through the television or radio when it hears Joe Girardi talking about good at-bats and other Yankees talking about hitting the ball hard.
That can only happen if you didn't smash the viewing/listening device when it tried to tell you that Kuroda pitched well by allowing three runs over 5.1 innings or that Girardi tried to shake things up by dropping Mark Teixeira, who isn't hitting and missed the weekend with illness, to seventh in the batting order.
At some point you just need to produce, be it on the mound or at the plate, and all of the talk about why you aren't or what you're trying needs to recede into the background.
That's the point the Yankees, who are back to .500, have reached after Monday night. It's time to win and leave the explanations to other teams.