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Yankees weekly wrap-up: Yankees fading while the real contenders surge towards October

The Yankees endured another mediocre week due to a maddeningly inconsistent offense, and unless they can put together a big winning streak soon, the playoffs are starting to look like a dream best saved for 2015.

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Record this week: 3-3 (2-1 against the Red Sox, 1-2 against the Royals)

Another week, another mediocre performance.  The Yankees managed to steal a series from the Boston Red Sox with a pair of homers in the bottom of the ninth in the series finale, but they couldn't muster much offense against the red hot Royals. The Yankees now sit 4.5 games back in the Wild Card, and have faded over the past month - they got within half a game of the second Wild Card on August 8, but since then, they've gone just 12-14 and slipped down the standings.  While the Yankees have sputtered along, other teams like Seattle (17-10 since August 8th), Kansas City (18-9) and Cleveland (17-8) have all surged at the right time (especially with how Detroit has looked recently).  The Yankees are now hanging on for dear life at the edge of the playoff picture. If New York is to have any chance at the end of the season, the winning streak we've all been waiting for has to happen, and happen now.

Quick hits:

Derek Jeter sent off in style (except for the actual baseball game) - The Yankees held Derek Jeter Day in the Bronx on Sunday, bringing in many big names like Dave Winfield, Cal Ripken Jr., and even Michael Jordan, to the honor the Yankee captain.  Jeter capped off the ceremony with a touching speech to the fans, saying, "I've loved what I've done, I love what I'm doing, but more importantly I love doing it for you."  Of course, the Yankees had a game to play after the pageantry, and, while Jeter at least got a hit, it marked one of the only four hits the Yankees got all afternoon in a listless 2-0 loss to the Royals.  It'd be nice for the Yankees to win one of these send-off games, but I guess even Jeter magic can't propel this team to offensive decency.  What a year.

Carlos Beltran providing solitary spark to heart of the order - Carlos Beltran has struggled with elbow issues this season, and certainly hasn't been the hitter Yankee fans expected when Brian Cashman signed him in the offseason.  Still, Beltran certainly hasn't been the problem with the offense lately.  While the heart of the Yankee order (mainly Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann) has struggled, Beltran has been quite good since the All-Star Break.  The veteran has hit .269/.350/.429 with a 120 wRC+ in the second half, becoming just about the only offensive threat in the middle of the Yankees' lineup.  He hasn't been terrific in his first season in pinstripes, but Beltran hasn't been nearly the problem that some other hitters have been.

Position Player of the week:  Brian McCann

Even though Brian McCann has struggled through much of his first season in New York, he did get off to a great start this week, notching six hits in the first two games against Boston.  During one of these games, McCann went four-for-four with a homer and three RBI in a 5-1 Yankee win.  Over the course of the six games this week, McCann hit .316 with two home runs and four RBI.  While he struggled against the Royals, so did almost everyone in New York's lineup - McCann's big start to the week gives him the edge here.

Pitcher of the week: Hiroki Kuroda

Kuroda had the best start of any Yankee pitcher this week, throwing seven innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox while giving up just four hits while striking out eight.  Kuroda has been extremely steady during the second half, posting a 3.12 ERA with a 3.20 FIP and giving the Yankees some consistency during a season that has seen quite a bit of turnover in their rotation.  While the Yankees got some other fine performances this week (especially by Michael Pineda, yet again), Kuroda was better than all of them.