What an ugly weekend, ugly homestand, ugly season for these 2021 Yankees.
You’ve had it. You booed passionately Saturday night, in person and virtually, as the Yankees lost again to the rival Red Sox, 7-3, their third straight loss and ninth in 12 tries, and fell into fourth place in the American League East at 31-28. By gosh those jeers were merited, as your club faltered all over the field, displaying a glass jaw and poor athleticism and continued to perform as though a team gets charged a fee for every run it scores.
You want change. Many of you desire to channel the late George Steinbrenner, or the alive Donald Trump, and fire everyone responsible for this mess.
I’m not sure whether that would produce anything beyond short-term satisfaction for you. I am sure that wouldn’t be fair based on those “everyone’s” larger body of work.
Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone deserve the opportunity to fix this mess. And then, if they can’t prevent this ship from sinking, they’ll deserve the consequences. The same goes for hitting coach Marcus Thames.
“Work, compete, trust in one another, understanding that it’s going to take everyone,” Boone said after the game, when asked to describe the path out of this disaster. “We understand that, over the course of a long season, adversity’s coming for us. We’ve had our share obviously in these first 60 or so games where we’ve had a couple of stretches where we really have taken it on the chin. If we’re going to be the club we expect to be, we’ve got to rally from that. The only way we know how to do that is come to work tomorrow, get ready for our opponent and hopefully go start playing our best baseball.”
I know: You hate Boone’s news-conference platitudes. Even if you can’t revive Billy Martin, you’d prefer Alex Cora’s sharpness, or Dusty Baker’s unfiltered wisdom, or even Joe Girardi’s post-defeat testiness. Except that Boone spoke the same way in 2019, when the Yankees overcame a record-setting amount of injuries to play deep into October. And last year, when they shrugged off a roller-coaster regular season to look great for their first three playoff games … until the disastrous decision to deploy Deivi Garcia and J.A. Happ as a one-two combo for AL Division Series Game 2.
Perhaps last year’s turbulence spoke to larger issues than the 60-game regular-season schedule and the stress of playing during a pandemic and Cashman, whose track record of consistently producing playoff teams can’t be neutralized by the lack of recent titles, should have switched up his position-playing corps rather than reunite it.
While the Yankees did climb out of a 3-2 hole thanks to Gleyber Torres’ sixth-inning sacrifice fly — the shortstop drove in all three of his team’s runs — the game’s most galling moment occurred prior to that, in the top of the sixth, when converted outfielder Miguel Andujar failed to catch Xander Bogaerts’ fly ball to deep left field. According to Statcast, the expected batting average on a ball struck thusly is .150. Bogaerts hit 1.000 on it, getting a double off the wall and sending Alex Verdugo to third base with one out and the Bosox trailing 2-0, because of Andujar’s inability to properly navigate the wall.
Boone kept in his starter, Jameson Taillon, to go after Rafael Devers, who stroked the game-tying, two-run single. Maybe Taillon should have been lifted for Jonathan Loaisiga, who subsequently served up a Hunter Renfroe infield single and a Marwin Gonzalez double to put the visitors temporarily ahead. They wound up scoring four runs in the eighth off Chad Green for the victory.
Ultimately, this Yankees team is supposed to out-hit its other mistakes, and it hasn’t come close to doing that. Giancarlo Stanton, who should be lowered from second in the lineup, is 2-for-23 with 11 strikeouts since returning from the injured list. A lineup with nine righty hitters touched up Boston’s lefty starter, Edwin Rodriguez, for just three runs, five hits and a walk in 5 ¹/₃ innings.
Ug-lee. The Yankees need to beautify things soon to quiet the boos, to calm the masses. They can mess with the lineup some more, maybe call up Estevan Florial shortly. But firing the big names just doesn’t make sense. Under pressure, the Yankees should exhibit grace.