Plenty of Time Left for Yanks to Right Ship

Eight losses to Red Sox help define weaknesses

It would be insane to hit a panic button with 102 games to play in a season, no matter how many games you've lost to your biggest rivals. It would also be insane to say that losing eight games to your biggest rivals isn't something that needs to be take seriously.

The Red Sox have beaten the Yankees in every possible way in those eight games. They've won blowouts and they've come from behind. They've gotten great starting pitching and their bullpen has slammed the door on Yankee rallies. They've made strong fielding plays, while the Yankees have blundered in the field and on the basepaths. After all of that, any attempt to argue that the Yankees are a better team right now is to favor blind faith over clear evidence.

That doesn't mean it will be the case in 55 days, however.

These eight losses should help the Yankees define the things that need fixing, with the bullpen at the top of the list. Joe Girardi was boxed into a corner on Thursday night when it was clear CC Sabathia was laboring. Like many managers, Girardi refuses to use his best relief pitcher outside of save situations, but he also doesn't have another arm that he trusts in a high leverage spot. If that player isn't on the roster, the Yankees have to go find him because one of the biggest gulfs between the Yankees and the Sox is the skill level in their relief corps leading up to the closer.

Fixing the bullpen is the biggest need right now, but there are other spots that need tweaking. Figuring out Chien-Ming Wang's future is essential, as is getting A.J. Burnett straightened out. Teaching Nick Swisher how to note the difference between a fly ball and a groundball would be swell, as would getting him to have an occasional at-bat that didn't go to a full count. These things are all problems, and no one can assume that any of them will just figure themselves out.

There will be a lot of screaming about the Yankees' production with runners in scoring position this week, but that's the perfect spot to say the Yankees can't overreact. The Red Sox have an outstanding pitching staff, and the Yankees have a great lineup. The Sox won that battle this time, and they've won most of their battles with the Yankees this season.

That's why they're 8-0 in the series, not because of curses, hexes or mind games. Right now they're better than the Yankees, plain and simple. 102 games from now, though, there can be different answers. 

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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