It's hard to believe the Yankees were in first place in the AL East by four games just two weeks ago. But they lost for the 10th time in the past 11 games, 5-2, to a Texas team that pounded out six extra-base hits Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees, who were 21-12 after winning on May 11, dropped their sixth straight game and fell to 22-22.
Their pitching staff is in tatters. Starter Chris Capuano (0-2) lasted only 41/3 innings, marking the fifth time in this 1-10 stretch -- and the fourth in the last six games -- that a starter has failed to get out of the fifth inning. Texas had 30 runs and 40 hits in sweeping the three-game series.
"What sets the tone is starting pitching,'' Joe Girardi said. "You have to rely on the hitters, but the tone is set by starting pitching.''
The vast majority of the crowd of 45,681 was in their seats for a pregame ceremony in which the No. 51 of former centerfielder Bernie Williams was retired and he was presented a plaque in Monument Park. "I wish I could be playing now," said Williams, 46.
Considering the slide in which the Yankees found themselves heading into the game, there were plenty of folks in the stands who wished the Yankees had someone as reliable as Williams in the lineup. But the biggest hole in the lineup has been at starting pitcher.
Capuano was lucky the deficit was only 3-2 when he departed. He gave up an unearned run in the first inning when Shin-Soo Choo reached on an error by second baseman Jose Pirela and immediately scored on a double off the centerfield wall by Prince Fielder, who went 8-for-14 with three homers, a double and nine RBIs in the series.
The Yankees responded with two runs in the bottom of the first even after leadoff man Brett Gardner singled and was thrown out at third on Chase Headley's single for the first out. Alex Rodriguez singled and the runners advanced to second and third on Mark Teixeira's grounder to first. Brian McCann's two-out, two-run single gave the Yankees a short-lived 2-1 lead.
Capuano got the first two outs of the second but gave up a single to Robinson Chirinos and a two-run homer by No. 9 hitter Adam Rosales. "Capuano has to be really fine,'' Girardi said. "Rosales hit a changeup out.''
Capuano then yielded two more singles before striking out Fielder. "When you get two quick outs, you've got to be better than that,'' Capuano said. "You've got to shut them down . . . My No. 1 goal was to get deep and take the pressure off the bullpen. I've got to be better.''
Capuano allowed runners to reach scoring position in the third and fifth before giving way to Chasen Shreve with one out and runners at first and second in the fifth. Shreve got out of that jam and got the first two outs of the sixth before walking Rosales and being lifted for Justin Wilson.
In contrast with the Yankees' parade of relief pitchers, Texas starter Yovani Gallardo (4-6) settled down after his rough first inning. Didi Gregorius reached on an error leading off the second but Gallardo pitched to the minimum number of batters through the end of the sixth, allowing only a fourth-inning single by Garrett Jones, who was erased by a double play.
Wilson was absolutely hammered in the top of the seventh. After Delino DeShields lined a triple over the outstretched glove of Chris Young in deepest center, Choo doubled him home and scored on a double by Fielder that just missed clearing the wall in rightfield. That made it 5-2.