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New York Yankees feel like they need him in the lineup

4:51 AM
04/25/2016
NEW YORK -- As bad as Alex Rodriguez has been this April, the New York Yankees feel like they need him in the lineup.

A-Rod didn't make it to the end of the Yankees' 8-1 loss Sunday to the Tampa Bay Rays, leaving early because of an oblique issue that required him to get an MRI exam. He was still a big focus on a team not getting many hits, even though he hasn't been contributing himself.

At least the Yanks still believe A-Rod can hit, which is more than you can say for a lot of the Yankees Masahiro Tanaka Jersey, particularly when the opposing pitcher throws with his left hand.

The Yankees were limited to one run again Sunday, and while Rays starter Drew Smyly is an impressive lefty, he really didn't do anything out of the ordinary to stifle the Yankees.

The Yankees have scored two runs or fewer in eight of the first 17 games this season. Going into Sunday, only the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies had been worse, with nine such games apiece Luis Severino Jersey. And in 12 of the first 17 games, the Yankees have been held to no more than three runs. Only the weak-hitting Rays and rebuilding Phillies have struggled more, each with 13 three-runs-or-fewer games.

Sunday's game felt just about over when Michael Pineda allowed two home runs and five runs total in the first inning. Pineda was his usual puzzling self, becoming the first Yankee pitcher ever with nine strikeouts and four homers allowed in the same game.

The bigger immediate issue, however, is the lineup, especially against lefties. The Yankees could face two more left-handers in the three games in Texas, although they'll avoid Cole Hamels, who was scratched from Monday's scheduled start because of a groin problem.

A lineup already struggling against lefties has now been without Aaron Hicks, who missed the past two games with a sore shoulder and whose return remains unknown. Then, two innings after Rodriguez drove in Sunday's only Yankee run with a double off Smyly, he left the game with what the team described as left oblique stiffness.

The double was Rodriguez's second hit in his past 19 at-bats https://www.nyystore.com/chasen-shreve-jersey-c-10.html, and just his eighth hit in 55 at-bats this season (a .145 average). But it was also a reminder of what he can still do -- at times.

"The last thing I saw was him hitting a missile off the wall," Chase Headley said. "We need him. He's a big threat in the middle of the lineup."

Manager Joe Girardi said similar things, expressing hope, if not belief, that A-Rod's oblique problem won't force him to the disabled list. The Yankees aren't loaded with possible replacements in Triple-A, although they did recently sign Nick Swisher to a minor league deal.

The Yankees need to figure out something, because it seems unlikely that their two- or three-run-a-day offense will be enough in Texas, Boston or Baltimore, the three stops on their trip that begins Monday.

They scored just 24 runs total in the just-finished nine-game homestand, and six of those came in Friday night's win over the Rays. They took two of three from the Rays after losing five of six to the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, and left home in last place in the American League East.

"We're not swinging the bats like we're capable of https://www.nyystore.com/kirby-yates-jersey-c-12.html, but we'll get this turned around," catcher Brian McCann said.

Perhaps they will, but it says a lot that they left the park hoping they haven't lost a guy who's hitting .145.

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