The New York Yankees’ recent swoon has exposed weaknesses in their starting pitching and bullpen as they’ve slipped further back in the race for a playoff berth.
Lately, Andy Pettitte hasn’t helped any of those problems.
The Los Angeles Angels will try to complete a three-game sweep of the beleaguered Yankees on Sunday in Anaheim, as Pettitte looks to snap out of his own personal slump.
New York (63-54) has dropped four of six to start its 10-game road trip, falling to 5-9 in its last 14 games overall. The main problem has been pitching, as the Yankees’ staff has a 6.95 ERA over that span.
After starter Ian Kennedy lasted two-plus innings in a 10-5 loss to the Angels (73-43) on Friday, it was New York’s bullpen that struggled Saturday, allowing 10 runs in the final two innings of an 11-4 defeat.
After Boston’s win in Chicago, the Yankees fell four games behind the Red Sox and two behind the White Sox for the AL wild card.
“Quite honestly, we can’t look back now,” shortstop Derek Jeter told his team’s official Web site. “We’re running out of games. So we need to move on from this point. We need to play well.”
With a banged-up rotation that has Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Chien-Ming Wang all on the disabled list. Pettitte (12-9, 4.34 ERA) has been looked to for stability, but he hasn’t provided it recently.
Instead of saving the bullpen and giving the Yankees quality innings, the veteran left-hander has failed to make it out of the sixth inning in each of his last two starts, losing both. He gave up five runs in five-plus innings of an 8-6 loss to Texas on Tuesday.
“I expect so much out of myself, and that’s why I’m so disappointed tonight,” Pettitte said. “… It’s my job to make sure I take us deep in the game. I take a lot of pride in doing that, and it’s just extremely disappointing when you’re not able to do it.”
Los Angeles also pegged him with a loss in the Bronx on July 31, when he gave up nine runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 12-6 defeat, part of the teams’ four-game split. Pettitte has faced the Angels three times since 2003, with a 9.35 ERA in those starts.
The Angels, who still have baseball’s best record, enter Sunday’s game having scored 30 runs in its last three games. Their 16-5 record since the All-Star break is the best in the majors, and they have scored 140 runs in that span—tied for the highest total in baseball.
“Everyone feeds off each other and you put a lot of pressure on the pitchers,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “When you look up and down our lineup and everyone’s clicking, you’re going to score a lot of runs. And we have it all going right now.”
Joe Saunders (14-5, 3.03) has been enjoying the run support while continuing to give the Angels a chance at a victory nearly every time out. The southpaw has pitched at least six innings in each of his last six starts, going 3-1 with a 2.95 ERA over that span.
Saunders, who trails Cleveland’s Cliff Lee by one for the AL lead in wins, has not faced the Yankees since 2006. He has a 10.80 ERA against them in two career starts.
In each of their last four trips to Anaheim, the Yankees have come within a game of being swept, but have won the final game of the series each time. They return to Angel Stadium again next month, finishing another 10-game road trip there from Sept. 8-10.