If it seems like the Yankees can't stay out of their way long enough to win a game right now, it might be because it's true.
Just check out this video of Eric Chavez hitting Cody Eppley in the head with a throw back to the mound from Tuesday night's game. When you can't even successfully pull off the ol' throw the ball around the infield and then back to the pitcher routine that baseball teams complete successfully dozens of times a night, then you know something just isn't right around the team.
There's a good chance that you didn't need that video to teach you that lesson, though. Tuesday's 6-5 loss to the Tigers was the team's 12th in its last 18 games, a skid that has brought the rest of the AL East back into the race (the Orioles are within 4.5 games) and raised questions about how they're going to get back on the right track.
Getting good pitching would be a nice place to start. Phil Hughes wasn't as bad as Ivan Nova was on Monday, but he was out of the game before the fifth inning was over and he'd already staked the Tigers to a 4-2 lead.
Perennial Yankee killer Miguel Cabrera got the biggest blows with a double and a homer, but the real culprit was the return of Hughes' inability to put hitters away. He needed 43 pitches to get through the fourth, giving back a 2-0 lead and allowing 17 foul balls that kept at bats alive long enough to turn into successes for the Tigers.
A return of the fringey Hughes from earlier this season is not something that the Yankees are well equipped to handle with Nova struggling and Freddy Garcia still in the rotation. CC Sabathia tries to stop the bleeding on Wednesday, but he can't keep this team afloat all by himself.
The Yankees would rally when Hughes left the game, scoring twice off Tigers closer Jose Valverde and ending the game with runners on second and third when Curtis Granderson popped out. It made a run allowed by Joba Chamberlain, pitching on back-to-back days for the first time since his return to action, seem huge, but the damage had been done much earlier in the night.
Eight of those 12 losses in the last 18 games have come by one run, a frustrating trend that makes being stuck in this rut even more frustrating. As with Chavez's throw into Eppley's noggin, the Yankees are a beat off in almost everything they're doing right now and that's leading to game after game that goes just wrong enough to leave them as losers.
It was easy to be unconcerned with a little stumble when the Yankees had a seven or eight game lead in the division. That lead is gone, the concern level has risen and full blown panic is a little closer than anyone needs it to be a week into August.
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