The Indians lose to the Yankees, but what else is new?
Make that 1-4 for the Cleveland Indians against the New York Yankees this year. Neither the return of Nick Swisher to the Bronx nor the presence of staff ace Justin Masterson on the hill could get the Tribe past the Yanks in a 7-4 loss Monday. The defeat shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. The Yankees have had the Indians’ number for a good while now. Since the start of the 2009 season through Monday night’s game, Cleveland is a woeful 10-29 against New York. The .290 winning percentage is the second worst of any American League team against New York in that timeframe, behind only the Minnesota Twins’ abysmal .250 mark (7-21). Here’s how some other teams stack up in the last four seasons and change:
The AL Central hasn’t been able to solve the Yankees for about five years. Since 2009, the Central squads are 55-104 against New York. That barely edges out the AL West’s 60-91 mark. Though to be fair, no AL team since the start of the 2009 season has a winning record against the Yankees. Only Tampa Bay, at 39-39, is even at .500. Boston is just behind at 39-40. For the Indians, Monday’s loss was another down in the yo-yo season of Masterson, who gave up seven runs, all earned, on 6 1/3 innings with five strikeouts and three walks. In 13 starts this season, Masterson has four outings of zero runs, four outings of three runs or fewer, and five outings with four or more runs allowed. What has to be especially frustrating for Masterson is he got beat up by an old and frequent nemesis: left-handed hitters. Though the right-hander has had a better time against southpaws this season than any other — coming into the game, he’d allowed a slash line of just .227/.321/.330 to them, compared to last year’s .296/.376/.450 line and a career .785 OPS against — lefties in New York’s lineup got to him Monday. Both home runs Masterson gave up came from the left side (though Mark Teixeira’s third-inning grand slam shouldn’t have counted). And though he got through the first six left-handed batters of the night without a problem, he unraveled against them between the third and seventh innings. In that span, lefties went 7-for-17 with two walks, the pair of homers, and all seven RBIs. As for the Yankees, the seven runs scored Monday are the most New York has put up in a game since a 9-4 win over Tampa Bay on May 24. Not surprisingly, the team is just 3-7 since then. The Yankees’ offense has definitely scuffled the last two weeks, but the lack of runs has been a season-long concern. Before Monday’s game, the team was averaging a mere .703 OPS on the season. Keep in mind, the Yankees haven’t posted an OPS that low since 1991, when New York managed a meager .704 mark. The Yanks are in the bottom half of MLB in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs and batting average. Likewise, the team’s OPS+ before Monday sat at 90, worse even than Seattle, Minnesota and San Diego. (OPS+ is a league and park-adjusted version of OPS where a value of 100 is average, anything more than 100 is better than league average and anything lower is worse. Essentially, the Yanks have been 10 percent worse than league average this season.) The returns of Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis, and eventually Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, should help the offense climb again. But the hot starts of Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay haven’t been enough to keep New York humming along like usual at the plate.