NEW YORK – Yankee Stadium wasn't that much of a home run haven this year.
There were 223 homers hit at the second-year ballpark, down from a major league-leading 237 last year. The Yankees hit 115, according to STATS LLC, a drop from 136 last season.
"I can definitely tell that the ball is not carrying as well as it was last year," the Yankees' Mark Teixeira said before Sunday night's 4-3, 10-inning win over Boston completed the home schedule. "Center field to right-center is really dead compared to last year. There are balls you hit out there that you think at the very least are going to hit off the wall and you're going to get a double, and they're dying at the warning track."
Last year there were home runs in 80 of 81 regular-season games, all but in the Washington Nationals' damp 3-0 win on June 18 that started after a 5-hour, 26-minute rain delay.
There were seven games without home runs this season: a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on April 14; a 5-1 win over Texas two days later; a 4-1 victory over Baltimore on May 4; a 4-3 win over Houston on June 11; a 4-0 loss to the New York Mets on June 18; a 6-1 loss to Toronto on July 2; and a 7-1 victory over Kansas City on July 23.
"Guys obviously adjust," Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain said. "You don't necessarily pitch away from your game. But you pitch a little different. That could be one thing — guys just made adjustments here."
While the ballpark last year easily surpassed the record for home runs at old Yankee Stadium — 215 in 2004 — it failed to approach the major league record of 303 hit at Denver's Coors Field in 1999. Still the Yankees set a major league record last year by homering in 73 home games. This year they went deep in 63.
Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona didn't see much of a difference.
"I think right field is scary," he sad even before Alex Rodriguez's two-run homer in the seventh off Daisuke Matsuzaka cleared the wall in right-center. "I'm not here enough to know. I just know I get nervous when their hitters are up."
Yankee Stadium's home-run barrage was most pronounced early in the 2009 season. An average of 3.5 homers per game were hit before the June 18 game, and the figure dwindled to 2.5 per game for the remainder of the season.
This year's average of 2.75 at Yankee Stadium is down from last year's 2.93.
"It just plays the same," New York's Jorge Posada said. "The field doesn't change from one year to the other. We just hit more homers last year."
And pitchers are doing better. There have been 1.91 home runs per game in the major league this season, down from 2.07 last year.
"Maybe it's just the pitching got better this year. It may not be the ballpark at all," Teixeira said. "The pitchers as a whole in the league have really stepped it up this year."