Last Updated: 9:05 AM, May 6, 2012
Posted: 2:37 AM, May 6, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The stench that smothered the Midwest last night didn’t come from tons of decaying beef in a sweltering stock yard.
No, the nose-jerking odor came off the Yankees who a month into the season have major reasons to be concerned even if they are not admitting it publicly.
After losing Mariano Rivera for the year, the Yankees talked about how everybody had to chip in to make up for the void.
Since Rivera’s season ended Thursday night, the Yankees have dropped two of three to the Royals and last night’s 5-1 loss was an embarrassment witnessed by a Kauffman Stadium crowd of 29,121.
How dead were the Yankees bats? Felipe Paulino, a right-hander with a 10-31 major league record and making his first appearance of the year because of a strained right forearm, blanked the Dead Bat Society across six innings and allowed four hits.
Hiroki Kuroda (2-4) didn’t have command of anything and didn’t get out of the fifth. After two solid starts, Kuroda gave up three runs (two earned), six hits and walked three in 4 1/3 innings.
Relievers Cody Eppley and Boone Logan combined to surrender two runs in the sixth that stretched a 3-0 lead to 5-0.
Curtis Granderson (2-for-4) got thrown out foolishly trying to go from second to third on a fly ball to strong-armed right fielder Jeff Francoeur in the sixth inning with the Yankees trailing, 3-0, after opening with a double.
Derek Jeter’s first-inning fielding error resulted in an unearned run.
And the middle of the order continued to fade.
“It’s time for us to pick it up and start driving in runs,’’ said Alex Rodriguez, who with Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira combined for one hit in 11 at-bats. The one hit was Cano’s two-out single in the sixth. “We all could be doing better. You can only tip your hat so many times.’’
The 14-13 Yankees have lost four of five and send the struggling Phil Hughes to the mound today hoping he can help them split the four-game series against the 9-17 Royals.
Russell Martin was the lone bright spot. He went 3-for-4 and homered. After that there wasn’t much.
Hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position the Yankees are hitting .109 (5-for-46) in the clutch across the past seven games.
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon went 4-for-5 and DH Billy Butler drove in three runs.
“It’s not frustrating,’’ said Cano, who has four RBIs in 27 games and 110 at-bats. “We have a good team. One day it will turn around.’’
That day better arrive soon because this is a team with holes. After CC Sabathia the rotation is a four-headed question mark that Andy Pettitte might not be able to provide answers for.
Hitters often reference the 100 at-bat mark as a place that indicates it’s no longer early in the season.
Rodriguez has 100 at-bats, is hitting .260 with four homers, 11 RBIs and batting .185 (5-for-27) in the clutch.
Cano has 110 at-bats, is hitting .255 with a homer and four RBIs. With runners in scoring position he is at .115 (3-for-26).
Teixeira has 105 at-bats, is hitting .229 with four homers, 16 RBIs and a .240 (6-for-25) average in the clutch.
Considering the names and those numbers, can it get any worse?
“Rock bottom is a little extreme,’’ Rodriguez said. “We want to score four, five and six runs every night. Hopefully [today], we get our rhythm back.’’
A lineup that has Rodriguez, Cano and Teixeira in the middle of it has to do more than hope because if it doesn’t, hope won’t be nearly enough.