Like the Phillies, banged-up Yankees are scuffling

Posted: July 03, 2013

NEW YORK - The injuries have added up while attendance has gone down for an aging, perennial playoff team that is no sure shot for the postseason this year.

Sound familiar?

While this could be a description of the Phillies, it also fits their famous neighbors 90 miles north, the New York Yankees.

Who would have thought that as the July 31 trade deadline approaches both teams have the potential to be sellers?

The fans of both teams aren't buying as many tickets as in the past, although interest remains high. Last season, the Phillies led the majors with an average attendance of 44,021 and the Yankees were second (43,021).

This year, the Yankees are fourth (39,662), while the Phillies are fifth (38,921).

While the Yankees have suffered even more injuries than the Phillies, they somehow are in a better competitive situation. But things are slipping away. Sunday night's 4-2 loss at Baltimore was their fifth consecutive defeat.

After walloping the Twins by 10-4 Monday night, the Yankees are 43-39, 6 games out in the American League East and 31/2 games out in the wild-card race. Compare that with the Phillies, who are 39-44 and entered Monday 91/2 games out of the National League East lead and 71/2 out of the wild card.

With Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz back from earlier injuries, the Phillies have their position players back. The same can't be said of the Yankees.

In a win last week over the Texas Rangers, the Yankees' starting infield featured four-time all-star second baseman Robinson Cano, first baseman Lyle Overbay, shortstop Jayson Nix, and third baseman David Adams.

That is a far cry from the infield of Cano, first baseman Mark Teixeira, shortstop Derek Jeter, and third baseman Alex Rodriguez that was together when the Yankees beat the Phillies in the 2009 World Series.

Jeter (ankle) and Rodriguez (hip) have yet to play this year, and Teixeira (wrist) had only 53 at-bats and will undergo season-ending wrist surgery. For Cano there has been little protection, but he still has 19 home runs and 51 RBIs. Monday, he homered twice. Sunday, he hit his first home run since June 13.

"I have never been in a situation like this before," Cano said of being pitched around so much." But you try to stay focused and positive all the time."

One person who has remained remarkably calm has been manager Joe Girardi, who has been forced to fill out one patchwork lineup after another.

"I always said: As long as I know who I have in the room, it is not a whole lot different than what it is if you have certain other guys in the room," Girardi said. "It's when you get surprises that it's tough."

One of those surprises came when outfielder Curtis Granderson suffered a broken little finger after previously being out with a broken forearm.

"When a guy like Grandy goes down, then you have to start thinking how you are going to use your outfield now that he is gone," Girardi said.

Infielders Kevin Youkilis and Eduardo Nunez and catcher Francisco Cervelli are other position players on the disabled list.

So in a way, the fact that the Yankees remain above .500 has been remarkable. One thing the Yankees haven't lost is their resolve.

"We are professionals, and we understand that," said reliever Mariano Rivera, who at 43 remains as dominant as ever. "We don't give up and are always giving our best."

The Yankees, much more than Phillies, have history on their side. The Phillies made the postseason five straight years from 2007 through 2011, but the Yankees have been to the playoffs 17 of the previous 18 seasons, missing out only in 2008, the year the Phillies won the World Series.

Now, for the first time since 1994, the postseason could be without both the Yankees and Phillies. At least one of them will need to scramble like crazy to keep this postseason streak alive.


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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