1. The decline and fall of the New York Yankees. Not too long ago the Yankees were 21-12 and some writer had the audacity to say the Yankees might actually be good. Fool! Since then the Yankees have looked like an old, broken-down team relying on the past. They've gone 1-10 to fall to .500 and just gave up 30 runs in a three-game sweep at home to the Rangers. Ugly times, indeed. Here's what things look like during their current six-game losing trek.
The week begins with a series at home against the Royals, withNathan Eovaldi attempting to stop the leaking on Monday. He's followed by Adam Warren and Michael Pineda, who has allowed 18 hits and 12 runs over 11.1 innings in his past two starts. The team's strength remains the bullpen duo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, but they're not of much use if you can't get a lead. Old men Alex Rodriguez andMark Teixeira have actually hit OK during this 11-game skid, but the Yankees continue to get little offense from second base and shortstop and Brian McCannand Carlos Beltran are plodding along with OBPs under .300.
Really, this is the team many projected before the season: A .500-ish club.
Alas, the good news: The rest of the AL East is just as mediocre and the Yankees are only 1.5 games behind the Rays.
2. The return of Josh Hamilton. He returns to the Texas Rangers for their Monday game in Cleveland and the Rangers return home on Thursday. Will Rangers fans boo him or cheer him? Hamilton, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, had a 12-game rehab stint in the minors, including eight games in Triple-A, where he hit .250/.276/.357 with no home runs, one walk and nine strikeouts. That strikeout-to-walk ratio is the key stat because if Hamilton continue to flail away at pitches out of the strike zone he won't be much of a threat. The Rangers have actually won five in a row to claw back to 21-23 after an 8-16 start, but that doesn't mean they can't use Hamilton. He'll start in left field, where the Rangers have already gone through five different starters who have hit a combined .204/.307/.362.
3. Pitching matchup of the week: Max Scherzer versus Jon Lester(Wednesday). This is the final game of a fun three-game series between theWashington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. Scherzer has laid waste to the National League so far, going 5-3 with a 1.67 ERA and an opponents batting line of .199/.234/.290. In his three losses, the Nationals have scored a total of two runs and he has allowed just three earned runs. In his no-decision, he allowed one run. So he could easily be 9-0. After a 6.23 ERA in April, Lester has been solid in May, going 4-0 in five starts with a 1.85 ERA and .225 average allowed. Oh, plus you get to see Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant. In case that interests you. (The Cubs also host Kansas City, so a challenging week for them.)
4. Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals, Friday through Sunday. Remember that unstoppable L.A. offense? Welcome to baseball. In their past eight games they've scored 1, 1, 0, 0, 2, 2 and 3 runs, hitting .190 with just three home runs. In their first 35 games they had bushed 54 home runs. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have had the stingiest pitching/defense in the majors, allowing just 3.05 runs per game. Michael Wacha starts Saturday and he's 7-0 with a 1.87 ERA through his first nine starts, making just the fifth starter age 23 and younger to win his first seven decisions with an ERA under 2.00, joining Patrick Corbin in 2013, Jered Weaver in 2006, Dontrelle Willis in 2005, and Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.
5. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners. OK, enough is enough. It's getting late enough into the season where you can't use "slow start" as an excuse. Cano is hitting .247 with one home run and a .290 OBP. He has 31 strikeouts in 43 games after striking out 68 times in 157 games last year. He hasn't walked much and has looked a step slower on defense. He ranks 20th among second baseman in WAR. If he doesn't start hitting, you can kiss Seattle's playoff chances goodbye.
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