The numbers grew uglier individually and collectively for the Yankees on Saturday in a 3-2 loss to the Mariners at Yankee Stadium. The one that mattered most was four, as in the number of consecutive losses.
No panic, but no victory, either. “No player in here should feel like they should try to put the team on their shoulders,’’ Alex Rodriguez said.
And Rodriguez maintained that it is still early. The Yankees continued to find comfort in the calendar. They apparently will be the ones to decide if and when it’s getting late.
The Yankees did not dispute that this was a game for the taking. They left 14 men on base and were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, dropping them to 3-for-46 in that category in the last five games. They put 11 runners on base, six by walks, against Felix Hernandez, no less, but stranded 10 of them in his five innings. “It should be a game you win, but you didn’t,’’ Joe Girardi said.
With no margin for error because of the Yankees’ paltry offense, every missed chance at the plate and every mistake became a source of dissection: Chase Headley grounding out to second to end the game with runners on second and third. Rodriguez increasing his hitless streak to 19 at-bats and dropping his average to .100 with five futile trips to the plate. Austin Romine hitting a double and then getting thrown out trying to advance on a grounder. Getting a man to third with one out in both the second and third innings and failing to score.
And then there was Jacoby Ellsbury’s miscue in centerfield in the Mariners’ three-run fifth inning.
After leaving the bases loaded in the second inning, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the third on a run-scoring double by Carlos Beltran, who homered, doubled twice and singled in five at-bats.
Leonys Martin’s leadoff homer off CC Sabathia in the fifth tied it at 1-1. With two outs and Ketel Marte on first, he took off for second and Robinson Cano singled to center. Ellsbury fielded the ball but said he double-clutched on his throw, and Marte scored all the way from first.
“You just mis-grip the ball,’’ Ellsbury said. “I think if I didn’t double-clutch, I would have had him pretty easy.’’
Girardi said Ellsbury “came up looking at the runner instead of coming up throwing to the infielder, and that little pause cost us that run. He still gets a hit but it’s probably first and third.’’
Instead, when Mark Teixeira cut off Ellsbury’s throw and fired it home, Cano went to second on the play and scored on Nelson Cruz’s double to make it 3-1.
Said Sabathia, “First time I think I’ve given up a single and the guy scores from first . . . There’s a first time for everything.’’
Teixeira said of Ellsbury’s miscue, “Just an unfortunate play. They were really aggressive and we weren’t as aggressive. Give them credit. We just couldn’t get the big hit again. I just hope we’re not putting too much pressure on ourselves. Eventually, you really want to score runs. Everybody in here wants to score runs and win games. It’s just natural to press a little bit in these situations.’’
Beltran’s homer in the seventh brought the Yankees within 3-2. With two outs in the ninth, Beltran and Starlin Castro put together consecutive singles and Castro stole second to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. That left it up to Headley, who grounded out to second to drop his average to .154.
“Everybody wants to come up in that situation,’’ Headley said. “You do your best not to put extra pressure on yourself — it’s counterproductive — but I think everybody probably feels it. You want to get it done and usually it takes one time and you kind of get everybody going. Wish I could have gotten it done there.’’
Girardi was asked if he will tinker with the lineup. “It’s not like it’s been the same lineup for 10 straight days,’’ he said.
“I don’t always want to think about making changes when someone’s struggling,’’ Girardi said — an apparent reference to Rodriguez — before adding: “Obviously, guys have to produce to stay in spots.’’