The Yankees' struggles on offense have been baffling to those around the team. They have players with proven track records. The effort is there. They have come to the plate with the right approach. Yet the results have been so subpar that a 5-1 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday felt like an offensive outburst.
"There's obviously a lot of things that factor into it," hitting coach Kevin Long said prior to Wednesday's victory. "You'd have to be some kind of mad hitting scientist to go through it all and try to figure it out. I don't have all those answers."
And even though they are near the bottom of the American League in runs scored, the Yankees have not faded out of playoff contention yet. They head into Thursday's series finale against Boston within four games of Detroit, but also behind Seattle and Cleveland, in the race for the second AL Wild Card spot.
The Yankees' pitching staff is a huge reason they find themselves with something to play for in their final 25 games, despite numerous injuries to the starting rotation.
That is because players like left-hander Chris Capuano have stepped into the rotation admirably. He will start Thursday against the Red Sox, the team he started the season with and made 28 appearances. Capuano earned his first win with New York, and snapped a 12-start winless streak, in his last start against Toronto after tossing 6 1/3 innings and allowing three runs.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, are not in playoff contention, but they are not counting these games as meaningless. They plan on using this final month to evaluate how some players fit into their plans for 2015.
One of those players is Brandon Workman, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to make this start. He was shelled for 10 hits and seven runs on Aug 23 by the Mariners.
Workman still sees himself as a starter and is hoping a strong finish to 2014 will give himself a better chance to make the rotation heading into next season.
"All I can do is keep working," said Workman, who made 20 relief appearances and three starts last season. "I feel like I'm in a good place. Hopefully I'll go out and throw the ball well tomorrow and break that streak and get out of the slump, or whatever you want to call it."
Manager John Farrell certainly does not think this series should be focused on spoiling the Yankees' season.
"We always know that there's an added level of attention given to our series," Farrell said. "Unfortunately, we're not in the position they are and we're gathering information as we can on our own guys. That should not be misconstrued in any way that we'll take a different approach other than to win each and every night we go on the field."
Red Sox: Betts forcing decision for 2015
With the way top prospect Mookie Betts has looked recently, the might force the Red Sox into making a tough decision about his role in 2015.
Betts has mostly played center field, but Boston signed Rusney Castillo to a seven-year deal to play that position.
"Look, we understand next April there's nine spots in the lineup, so nine people will be in the lineup and we'll figure out who those nine guys are and how it all winds up," said general manager Ben Cherington, who also referred to Jackie Bradley Jr. "I think we want as many good players as we can and we're happy that we think we have a number of guys that could play center field in the Major Leagues. And in our particular ballpark, we like having more than one center fielder in the lineup at any time anyway because of the dimensions, and hopefully this gives us a chance to do that."
Yankees: Prado expected to miss a few days
Martin Prado has been diagnosed with a mild left hamstring strain that kept him out of the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Red Sox and will almost certainly sideline him on Thursday as well.
Prado had been one of the Yankees best offensive players recently, hitting .381 over his last 16 games.
"He's been swinging really well," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's not what you want. Hopefully it's just a day or two here and we can get him back, but we'll just have to wait and see."
• Girardi has had 20 of his 25 challenges overturned this season, the best success rate in the Majors.
• Workman allowed four runs on seven hits and lost his only career start against the Yankees on June 27, although he did last a career-high seven innings.
• Fifteen of the Yankees' final 25 games are in the Bronx.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.