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Offensive Struggles No Surprise for New York Yankees; Pitching Woes Are

Bats Mostly Quiet in 8-2 Opening Day Loss; CC Sabathia Shaky on Mound

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | With four All-Stars out of the lineup on the disabled list, there was an expectation the New York Yankees might struggle to score runs early in the season.

After all, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez represent an awful lot of production that is absent as the 2013 season begins.

But the expectation was that the pitching could help keep the Yankees afloat until Jeter gets back, presumably within a couple of week; until Granderson returns in early May; until Teixeira comes back in early June; until Rodriguez is healthy, whenever that may be.

The pitching staff didn't hold up its end of the bargain in an 8-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Monday, April 1.

Starter CC Sabathia allowed 12 baserunners in five innings, walking four and allowing eight hits and four runs and Joba Chamberlain made a serious mess of things in the ninth, effectively ending any hopes of a comeback by allowing three runs on three hits and two walks in an inglorious two-out stint.

In between, the Yankee offense was squandering most every opportunity it had.

The Yankees mustered only six hits against starter Jon Lester and a host of relievers, but had a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.

Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner led off with back-to-back walks off Boston reliever Andrew Miller. Trailing by two runs, with the heart of the order coming up, things looked promising for New York to erase what was at the time a 5-2 deficit.

Not so much.

Eduardo Nunez, much-ballyhooed by some fans for his offensive promise, was completely overmatched, striking out on four pitches in an at-bat that could best be described as "epic flail."

All-Star Robinson Cano just pulled a hanging slider foul then was blown away by a 97-mph heater.

Kevin Youkilis, facing reliever Andrew Bailey, went down on strikes without much of a fight.

And that was that. The Yankees never threatened seriously again, with the only baserunner in the final two innings (an eighth-inning single by Travis Hafner-erased on a double-play grounder.

It was a disappointing day to be sure for the Bronx faithful, but the struggles of Sabathia raised a big red flag.

Sabathia needed 102 pitches to labor through five innings and threw just 64 of them for strikes. What was worse was that Sabathia couldn't stop the bleeding when he had the chance in Boston's four-run second inning.

Down 2-0 after an infield single by Jose Iglesias, Sabathia got a ground ball for a force out at home and stood on the hill with the bases loaded and two outs.

That's a situation where an ace is supposed to pitch like an ace.

Instead, Sabathia served up back-to-back singles to Shane VIctorino and Dustin Pedroia and allowed two more runs before finally getting out of the inning.

It's just one game. It's a small sample size. But in nine innings on Monday, the Yankees brought every nightmare scenario about the punchless offense to life.

And the pitching that was supposed to save the day didn't.

Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network.

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