By Howie Karpin, The NY Extra/thenyextra.com
Following their 9-2 loss to the Rays on Thursday, a person close to the situation described the Yankees this way, “They’re boring.”
The “bore-games” continued last night with a 5-2 loss to the rival Boston Red Sox in their first meeting of the season. Rafael Devers clubbed a three run homer off of Yankees’ starting pitcher Michael King in the first inning and the Red Sox ended an 11-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium. These days, when the Yankees get behind, you get a sense that the game is over.
Thursday’s game was lost in the second inning when the Yankees failed to score after they had second and third with no one out. The lack of situational hitting has been a recurring theme to this season and it only adds to the lack of excitement.
Let’s call it like it is, the Yankees are not built well on offense and that lack of structure has been thoroughly exposed this season. The Yankees reliance on the home run has come back to bite them in a big way this season. Too many right handed hitters who do the same things litter the line up throughout. They’re also wasting some surprisingly good pitching.
There is no “plan-B” and there hasn’t been for this offense the past four seasons. It’s home run or bust and all you hear is “Well, that’s how they’re built.” Well, maybe that’s not the right formula for winning another World Series.
“You don’t know what you’re missing,” is an adage that doesn’t apply to the Yankees during this current home stand because the Rays and Red Sox flaunt what they are missing. The Yankees split the series with the Rays and were fortunate to do so. How many times does Tampa get the clutch hit with men on base, play mistake free or play enough small ball to back up their solid pitching.
The 2021 Red Sox are not the same lethargic squad that they were last season. Boston has a lethal 3-4-5 combination in J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. The Yankees 3-4-5 right now is Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres. Is that comparable to the Red Sox? Urshela has been one of the players who has actually performed well, but, with all due respect, he is not a “four” hitter.
Except for Judge, the Yankees have gotten absolutely no production from their outfield. Brett Gardner did not need to return and the fact that the Yankees have him starting in center field, demonstrates how this roster is lacking.
Clint Frazier has been a huge disappointment and I feel like Gardner’s presence has had something to do with him losing his confidence. Frazier is not this bad a hitter, but the Yankees have options on him and he may need another stint in the minor leagues to “get his mind right.” Miguel Andujar is still a work in progress in the outfield. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees dangle him as trade bait, because they will have to make some sort of move to shake things up.
Last night, the sense of ESDP (Extra Sense of a Double Play) reared its ugly head twice. Two more on the ledger last night brings that league leading total to 54. Judge killed a rally by hitting into a DP with first and second and no one out in the first. In the sixth, D.J. LeMahieu led off with a single but Giancarlo Stanton squashed that rally with a double play. Judge followed with a solo home run that broke the shutout bid, but it only amplified the lack of hitting with men on base. The Yankees have hit 67 home runs this season, but 47 have been solo jobs.
Yankee starter Michael King made one mistake and with the lack of run production, every mistake is huge. King tossed an “immaculate inning” (3 strikeouts on 9 pitches) but the offense is like the “immaculate deception.” After Devers’ homer, King actually pitched pretty well but there was no run support to back him up.
The other positive from last night is that there were no base running mistakes, another department that, unfortunately, the Yankees lead the league in. The amount of fundamental mistakes made by this team is unimaginable. The Yankees have made 28 outs on the bases.
On Tuesday night, Gary Sanchez led off the sixth inning with a double and then was thrown out trying for third on a ground ball to short. On Wednesday night, with first and second and no one out, Urshela tried to advance to third on a ball in the dirt and was thrown out. Even more head scratching was Torres, who was at first base but failed to advance to second. That proved costly a few minutes later when Torres was picked off first base.
Sanchez decline offensively mirrors the team’s woes. The Yankees can’t continue to think that Sanchez is their future behind the plate, so that’s another hole the team will need to fill. With more playing time, Kyle Higashioka is starting to get exposed.
The Yankees are now 2-3 on this important home stand against divisional rivals. Against the Rays, Blue Jays and now, the Red Sox, the Yankees are 8-15 this season. Following this series vs. Boston, the Yankees are on the road for an 8-game trip against the Twins, Phillies and Blue Jays. They currently trail the Rays and Red Sox by four in the loss column.
The Yankees are seeing early signs of a season slipping away. If things don’t get better fast, Manager Aaron Boone’s seat will get red hot. The manager can’t take a bat and hit for his players, but fundamental mistakes, base running blunders and lethargic play does not reflect well on the dugout leader of the team.
The fans deserve a better product on the field. Will it get better? There is time, but even with over a hundred games left, Yogi Berra said it best. “It’s getting late, early around here.”
Listen to my Karpin’s Korner show. Tuesday nights, 7 pm eastern time on 365sportscast.com