Yankees Start Second Half With a Thud

Seven-run first sinks Yankees and maybe Colon as well.

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Jul 15, 2011  |  Updated 7:49 AM EDT
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A pat on the back might not be enough to get Colon back on the right track.

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It didn't take long to figure out that the first game of the second half would not be an enjoyable one for the Yankees.

Bartolo Colon had allowed two of the first three hitters to reach base when Adam Lind grounded a ball to Mark Teixeira at first base.

Colon went to cover the bag and got the out, but YES cameras caught him grimacing on his way over to the bag in a near replay of the play that led to his stint on the disabled list last month.

We'd all be grimacing along with Colon soon. The next eight Blue Jays would reach base, leading to eight runs and Colon's departure after just two-thirds of an inning.

The Yankees would mount a rally and draw within 9-7 after Andruw Jones' second home run of the game, but the underbelly of the bullpen couldn't keep them in the game.

The 16-7 loss got the second half off to a sour note and raised new questions about the rotation's ability to get the Yankees to the promised land.

After the game, Colon said he wasn't feeling any pain but he also admitted that fear of reinjuring his hamstring is affecting the way he pitches and generally approaches the game.

The impact on his pitching was clear as the two-seamer he rode to success had less velocity and inconsistent location for the second straight start.

That could mean a trip to the disabled list is in Colon's future, although he probably needs to be a little less adamant about not feeling any pain to make that happen.

He's allowed 13 runs in his last 6.1 innings of work and Ivan Nova started Thursday for Scranton, which means there's a replacement right on schedule.

We'd be remiss if we didn't point out that Colon could have gotten out of the inning with only a modicum of damage if Eduardo Nunez didn't kick off his stint replacing A-Rod with yet another error in the first inning. In case you wanted something other than the pitching to worry about, he made a couple of other bad defensive plays on Thursday night, part of a sloppy effort overall by Yankee fielders.

But Colon was the real story because his night offered a stark reminder of the two biggest Yankee fears of the second half. One is health, which we've covered, and the other is the starting rotation.

If Colon goes down again, the Yankees are left with Freddy Garcia as their second most-reliable starter. The other three starters -- A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and Nova -- have rafts of questions about their fitness for battle and the pressure will kick up on Brian Cashman to come up with a better solution before the end of the month.

We're usually happy to see the All-Star break come to an end because life without real baseball just isn't all that enjoyable. The start to this year's second half has us feeling like 2011 is the exception to that rule.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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