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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 17: Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on July 17, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Should I stay or should I go: Yankees vs Red Sox series recap

The All-Star break has come and gone and teams now have to figure out where they stand in relation to making a playoff push or working toward the future.  The Yankees obviously stand right in the middle.  A .500 record and 7.5 games out of first place is not exactly a contender, but just close enough to make it tempting to add a player or two.  They will see just where they stand as the next four teams-Boston, Baltimore, San Francisco, and Houston- are at or near the top of their respective divisions.

Done in by the long ball

Michael Pineda would get the first start coming out of the break and he appears to be sliding back toward his early season tendencies of giving up home runs.  Five runs in five innings with three long balls….not much to be excited about there.  Bullpen or no great bullpen is beside the point.  The odd two or three game stretch of good starting pitching is all they are getting right now and there is just no consistency at all.

The offense certainly didn’t help matters any, unable to put a runner on base until the fifth inning.  By this time they were trailing 5-0.  Chasen Shreve, Nick Goody, Nathan Eovaldi, and Aroldis Chapman would combine to throw four innings of three-hit, shutout baseball.  The offense would put up three runs in the sixth inning to make things interesting with Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann getting the RBIs.  Unfortunately, they would only manage one hit over the last three innings and go quietly with a 5-3 loss.

The loss dropped the Yankees to 44-45, which would mark the first time since 1995 that the club has been below .500 after the All-Star break.  Quite a remarkable feat, to be honest.  The scouts are showing up in droves to watch the Yankees in hopes that Andrew Miller and others will be put on the market.  With apparent disagreement in the front office as to which road to take, it’s anybody’s guess what will transpire.  One thing is for certain.  There is a good portion of the fan base ready for the team to sell.

Same story, different day

C.C. Sabathia‘s struggles before the break would continue on Saturday as he would cough up five runs in 5.1 innings of work.  A 5.66 ERA in his last seven starts has sent his ERA skyrocketing to 3.94 on the season.  A far cry from mid-June when some were saying he was worthy of All-Star consideration.  He has now given up five or more runs in his last five starts.  So much for the Comeback Player of the Year.

The offense did manage to get solo home runs from Brett Gardner and Chase Headley, but little else.  The team managed four hits in seven innings against Eduardo Rodriguez, who came into the game with a fine 8.59 ERA.  Not much to really even talk about there.  A 5-2 loss that seemed much worse.

Weak starting pitching, minimal offense against a struggling starting pitcher for the opposition, and the defense even kicked it around a bit with two errors.  That is certainly not contending baseball.  Yeah, they aren’t getting blown out of games, but one gets the feeling watching these games that they are never really close to winning them either.  David Price and Masahiro Tanaka will hook up in the finale on Sunday night.  Hopefully, the club can salvage at least one game.

Tanaka the stopper

Tanaka has been the one consistent force in a rotation full of deficiencies in 2016.  He has given up two or fewer runs in 13 of his 19 starts, which even with an anemic offense, has led to a 7-2 record.  He also has been a Beast against the East by posting a 1.58 ERA against the AL East.  Those stats would play up well on Sunday night in the series finale.

Tanaka would put the Yankees in an early hole by serving up a home run to Dustin Pedroia in the first inning.  From there, Tanaka and the bullpen would be in control, limiting the Red Sox to two hits for the rest of the game.  Tanaka would go a solid six, giving up three hits and striking out seven.  Dellin Betances, Miller, and Chapman would combine for three shutout innings to finish things off.

The offense had scoring opportunities throughout the first three innings against Price, but let him wiggle off the hook.  They would finally cash in three times in the fourth with Castro, Austin Romine, and Jacoby Ellsbury getting the RBIs.  Price would leave after 5.2 innings, giving up 11 hits and 3 runs.  The three runs would be all the support the Yankees would need as they won 3-1.

The team heads to Baltimore for four games against the first place Orioles.  They are 8.5 back in the East and 5.5 back of the second wild card with a lot of teams to claw past.  It is especially difficult since the two current wild card teams are also in the East.  An inability to win series against division opponents does not bode well for a charge in the standings.