Heart of Yanks' batting order skips beat

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez said it was right where he wanted to be.

Two out in the ninth with the tying runs on base and a full count. Francisco Rodriguez on the mound and a sellout Citi Field crowd on its feet.

Unfortunately for A-Rod and the Yankees, that at-bat ended like plenty of others for the team's 3-4-5 hitters this weekend -- with runners left on base.

Rodriguez flailed meekly at K-Rod's 81 mph changeup, sealing the Yanks' 6-4 loss and handing the first round of the 2010 Subway Series to the Mets. It's the first three-game set the Yanks have lost to the Mets since 2007 and just the third in the 13-year history of interleague play.

"We want to forget about what happened this weekend and then just move on and keep playing the game," Robinson Cano said.

It's not surprising Cano would want to forget about the series against the Mets because the heart of the order was at the heart of the problem in all three games.

Mark Teixeira, Rodriguez and Cano failed to drive in a run all weekend and combined to leave 19 runners on base.

"There's no question there is a lot of frustration because we know we're capable of doing a lot more," said Rodriguez, who finished 4-for-12 in the series but left five men on base. "Collectively, we're just not getting it done right now."

Especially Rodriguez, who has whiffed in 10 of his past 18 at-bats against K-Rod.

"Alex has been a big force in those situations," manager Joe Girardi added. "Unfortunately, it didn't happen."

Sunday night marked the first time A-Rod had a game-ending strikeout while representing the go-ahead run at the plate since May 10, 2001, against the Tigers, when Todd Jones struck out Rodriguez to close a one-run win with a man on first.

Teixeira and Cano also struggled mightily with men on base against the Mets. Teixeira finished 2-for-13 with four strikeouts and seven runners left on base, and Cano went 4-for-13 but left seven stranded.

"We didn't do our job with man on base, you know?" the Yankees' second baseman said. "We got bases loaded, we got a guy up with men on and we didn't do our job."

Fault for the Bombers' struggles doesn't lie entirely with the middle of the order. Brett Gardner went 0-for-13 at Citi Field and saw his average dip below .300 for the first time since April 27. He also left 11 men on base.

Late in the game, it looked as if Gardner might make up for his lost weekend when he tried to beat David Wright's throw to first after chopping a grounder to third that scored Juan Miranda. But first-base ump Derryl Cousins called Gardner out on an awfully close play that drastically changed the ninth inning.

Teixeira followed with a two-out infield single, moving Derek Jeter to third and setting the stage for K-Rod vs. A-Rod.

"[That's] right where you want to be; it was a great matchup," Alex Rodriguez said. "He gave me some pitches to hit, I fouled them back and, ultimately, he made the pitch to win the game."

Ian Begley is a contributor to ESPNNewYork.com

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