A Lost Weekend Against The Boston Red Sox Send New York Yankees Further Off Track In Competitive AL East
The next time the Yankees take the field at Yankee Stadium, they could be under .500, the same position they were in through most of the first month of the season when they stumbled out of the gate to 11 losses in 17 games, their worst start since 1991.
The names on this current group do not mirror those from 30 years ago but the Yankees are 31-29 and 64-56 in their last 120 games because of a myriad issues at the plate along with several players out of position, spotty defense, shaky baserunning and numerous mental errors.
The is two bad stretches sandwiched around a good one as the Yankees are a combined 9-21 in the bad stretches which sandwiched a 22-8 run that seemed to assure they were on their way to extending their streak of winning seasons that started in 1993.
This year, the Yankees were pegged as favorites to win the AL East. Sixty games in, perhaps they are the favorites to finish fourth because after getting swept at home by the Boston Red Sox over the weekend for the first time since June 2011, other than the Baltimore Orioles who are the Yankees better then offensively in the AL East?
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Certainly not the Red Sox, who showcased an ability to mix homers with other hits to scored 18 times in the three games.
Sure, you can make the case the Yankees were hosed on a bad call when Rougned Odor struck out looking on a pitch that was at least three feet outside the strike zone but is it unreasonable to think that his walk would have merely set up another situation where the Yankees do not score.
After this weekend’s round of frustration which culminated in ejections of third base coach Phil Nevin and bench coach Carlos Mendoza (though it was hitting coach Marcus Thames doing the yelling), the Yankees posses many shaky offensive numbers and it is a reoccurring theme for a team who scored five runs Sunday and fell to 0-18 when allowing more than five runs.
Overall, they are hitting .228, a number that if it continued would be their worst batting average since the 1968 team hit .214 while managing to win 83 games in the year of the pitcher. They hit .223 against right-handed pitching, .238 against lefties, .224 at home and the only position where they are getting decent batting numbers are from third base (.270), shortstop (.274) and right field (.259).
They are also not good with two strikes, hitting .171 on an 0-2 count, .172 on a 1-2 count, .160 on a 2-2 count and .181 on a full count..
And there’s the issue when runners on base.
The Yankees got three hits with runners in scoring position Sunday and that merely gave them a .229 average with runners in scoring position. They hit .232 with runners on and .143 with two outs and a runner on third.
“There’s urgency, but we are in control of our season and our destiny,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Very much so, and we’ve got to take control of it.”
Then there’s the individual issues.
Forgetting the streakiness of Giancarlo Stanton, who was really good before injuring his quad and slumping badly since returning and the rough numbers produced by Gary Sanchez to date, it’s fair to wonder what happened to DJ LeMahieu, a batting champion in 2020, whom in the offseason the Yankees could not afford to lose.
The Yankees kept him on a six-year, $90 deal and so far they’ve gotten a .259 average, three homers and 14 RBIs in 245 plate appearances. He does not have an extra-base hit in 68 plate appearances and an OPS of .667.
And he ended the lost weekend with a groundout to second, three days after he could be heard slamming his helmet in the dugout following an eighth-inning strikeout.
LeMahieu’s frustrations were part of a week against the Rays and Red Sox that presented an opportunity for the Yankees to show that a three-game sweep in Detroit was a mere aberration. Instead, they lost five of seven and did not present many good moments while doing so.
It started with the inability to hit soft-tossing left-hander Rich Hill on Monday. Then after two wins, the Yankees played about as ugly of an afternoon game as they could play, allowing Ryan Yarbrough to throw Tampa Bay’s first complete game in over five years.
And then came the series with the Red Sox where the tone was set with a poorly located high fastball to Rafael Devers. It resulted in a three-run homer to the second deck in right field and occurred two pitches after Devers lofted one of those fastballs just foul down the left field line.
Then they allowed four runs in the eighth inning Saturday and then collapsed in the late innings again by blowing a two-run lead that really could have been more since the Yankees loaded the bases twice and hit into two of their three double plays.
The Yankees actually hit fairly decently at least by the low standards. They were 25-for-103 (.243) in the series but the same problems of not being able to expand innings doomed them and even if there is not a managerial change, the clamor is there from fans who use social media and call sports talk radio.
For two months, fans have heard about better things to come from the Yankees. After this weekend, it is fair for them to wonder what if those better things never appear?
“An awful week for us, culminating in the end of this homestand,” Boone said. “We’ve gotta get right, we’ve got to get better. It starts now on the road as we head to Minnesota.”