by Howie Karpin/The NY Extra/thenyextra.com
You can compare the Yankees’ weekend visit to Fenway Park to the proverb that describes the third month of the year. “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.”
The Yankees went into Boston “like a lion” (having won three straight series and 7 of 9) and, after a 9-2 thrashing by the Red Sox that completed a second three game sweep on Sunday, they went out “like a lamb.” After beating Boston in 9 of 10 games last season, they are 0-6 this season.
“Come up here in a big weekend series and take a giant step back,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said on the post game zoom. In their biggest series of the season, the Yankees were embarrassed.
The Yanks were hoping to salvage Sunday’s finale and had their ace, Gerrit Cole on the mound. From the very first pitch, you could tell this was not going to be Cole’s or the Yankees’ day.
Red Sox lead off batter Enrique Hernandez jumped all over Cole’s first pitch of the game, a four seam fastball that he drove over the “Green Monster” in left for a very quick 1-0 lead. The Bosox were not done as Rafael Devers clubbed a three run homer for a 4-0, first inning lead against the Yankees and their ace. “It’s a pretty brutal feeling to let the team down like that,” Cole said after the game.
It was the first time in his career that Cole gave up two home runs in the first inning. “Couldn’t get the breaking ball down, couldn’t get the fastball where we wanted to,” Cole said. “Try to make a good pitch and absolutely pull into the wrong part of the zone. First pitch of the game was poorly located as well.”
Same ol’ flaws continued to haunt the Yankees this weekend.
There were the missed opportunities to score, including the 7th inning, which was like a microcosm of the season so far. Yanks were trailing 6-2 and had the bases loaded with one out. D.J. LeMahieu struck out looking and Aaron Judge popped out to first to snuff out any hopes of a comeback. There were defensive mistakes, lack of fundamentals and poor at-bats littered throughout the three game series.
Of course, what’s a Yankee game without a GIDP. Gio Urshela was the latest culprit when he bounced into an inning ending double play in the eighth. It was the Yankees 75th time they grounded into a double play. (The Astros had two on Sunday so they league the lead with 76)
The fallout from this disastrous weekend has left the Yankees in 4th place in the AL East with a 40-37 mark. They trail first place Boston by 6 ½ games, the second place Rays by six and a half game behind Toronto for third.
What was disconcerting about this weekend is that the Yankees failed to respond to a Boston team that had the swagger in facing their hated rivals. You would think after five straight losses, (to be fair, some tough ones) that the Yankees would’ve offered a better response than they did in Sunday’s finale.
Cole was asked, “How do you [the Yankees] respond?” “As best you can when you get punched in the face,” Cole said. “Sometimes you’re gonna take hits and you gotta keep your cool and respond and understand that some of them are gonna land. We’ve been taking some blows, I think we gotta start dishing some back.”
Boone was already on the hot seat that got a whole lot hotter this weekend. “We expect way more out of ourselves, I know the fan base expects more,” he said. “To come up here and have a disappointing weekend against the team that we’re trying to chase down is frustrating.”
So what now for the Yankees?
Are there moves to be made that can improve this current roster? Will this offense be able to snap out of their first half malaise and be a whole lot more productive in the final 85 games?
Those questions need to be answered but there is not a quick fix out there. “We can’t wait and look around for a magic move to make us better,” Boone said. “The bottom line is, we have a lot of really talented people in that room, capable of a lot.”
The Yankees begin a 7-game home stand against the LA Angels and crosstown Mets this week. A good showing is imperative at this point of the season. After that, they still have to prove they can beat the teams in their own division. (17-24 vs. AL East after Sunday)
“We’re in the toughest division in baseball with some really good teams that are ahead of us in the standings. We gotta dig ourselves out and we gotta be more consistent and we gotta keep our foot on the gas, especially now as we start an important home stand,” Boone said.