While some of the New York Yankees’ problems this year have been due to their pitching, their star-studded lineup can certainly be blamed as well.
New York (49-44) entered play Friday with the 14th-best ERA in baseball, which could be expected for a team that has used 11 starting pitchers in 2008. What probably couldn’t be expected was that the Yankees were also ranked 14th in runs despite boasting stars such as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi.
Toronto All-Star Roy Halladay added to New York’s woes in the series opener, throwing a two-hitter in a 5-0 victory. Rodriguez and Jeter had the lone hits for New York, which was shut out for the sixth time this season.
“He was dominating,” Rodriguez said. “We weren’t even close.”
Although Halladay was brilliant, the Yankees have become accustomed to other pitchers dominating them. Since posting its highest run total of the season in an 18-7 win over Texas on July 2, New York has scored 20 runs in splitting its last eight games.
Lyle Overbay had three hits Friday for his second straight multihit effort and Matt Stairs homered for Toronto (46-47), which is seeking its third five-game winning streak of the season. The Blue Jays can also get back to .500 for the first time since June 14.
To do that, they’ll turn to Litsch (8-5, 4.01), who’s unbeaten in his last eight home starts against AL opponents, including six this season. Litsch, however, is 1-4 with a 5.27 ERA in his last seven starts overall after going 7-1 to start the season.
That poor stretch began when the right-hander lost to New York on June 4, yielding four runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-1 defeat at Yankee Stadium. He’s 1-2 with a 6.67 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees.
Litsch turned in another sub-par outing Sunday when he gave up six runs over 5 1-3 innings of a 7-1 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
“In this league, you’ve got to keep your mistakes to a minimum,” catcher Rod Barajas said about Litsch. “And when you don’t throw 96, 97 miles an hour, those mistakes have a tendency to get hit more often than not.”
New York’s scheduled Saturday starter is also struggling. Darrell Rasner (4-7, 4.94) is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his last three starts, and 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA in his last five road outings. He was reached for six runs in five innings July 4 in a 6-4 loss to Boston in his last start.
The right-hander has faced Toronto once, earning his first career road win Sept. 18, 2006 by limiting the Blue Jays to three runs in six innings of a 7-6 victory.
Rasner has failed to last past the fifth inning in five straight starts.