- Mike Whiteman
About Last Night: Another Loss
By Mike Whiteman
The Yankees and the Rays played a close game, with the Rays winning 2-1.
The Yankees are 1-6 over their last seven games.
On This Day in 1993, Jim Abbott no-hit the Cleveland Indians:
The Yankees are 79-54 on the season.
They lead the American League East by four games.
They have the second best record in the American League – behind only Houston.
As of this morning they are on pace for 96 wins. Less than a month ago, they were pacing 105 wins.
The Yanks are sinking fast: 15-25 since the All-Star break, 10-18 in August, and are 0-2 in September.
The Big Story:
Yankee starter Clarke Schmidt, along with relievers Lou Trivino, Ron Marinaccio, and Jonathan Loaisiga, held the Rays to only two runs. Unfortunately, the ice cold Yankee offense forces their pitching to basically be flawless. They came darned close – the “big” Rays’ hit was Yandy Diaz’s two-run single off Schmidt’s foot, which bounced just past Gleyber Torres’ glove into right field. Gleyber was at a bit of a disadvantage trying to field the ball, as the Yanks were playing the infield in. In the third inning. The Yanks were not willing to trade a run for an out in the third inning because of the continued offensive drought, and for good reason.
The Yankees had just two hits – singles by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton - through the first eight innings. Judge led off the ninth with his 52nd home run of the season, and the Yanks were within a run with their 2-3-4 hitters coming up. Unfortunately, these players came into the game hitting .267, .219, and .220. Sadly, the results were predictable - pop out, strikeout, strikeout. Rays win, 2-1.
Player of the Game:
Tampa starter Corey Kluber was in full control - yielding two singles and no walks in seven innings work. He has a 1.08 ERA in four starts this season against his former team.
Judge’s home run tied his career high set his rookie year of 2017. Three Yankees have hit fifty or more home runs in a season at least twice: Judge, Mickey Mantle, and Babe Ruth. While the team performance is frustrating, we’re still seeing a history-making season from Judge.
Oswald Peraza made his first of what the Yankees hope are many starts at shortstop. He turned a real nice double play in the seventh inning.
Better to Forget:
There’s a whole lot to forget, but perhaps the most “forgettable” has been Stanton’s performance since returning from his stint from the IL: four hits, all singles in eight games, .133 batting average. Counted on to be a menacing presence in the middle of the lineup, Stanton is now slashing .219/.304/.464.
They Said It:
“We just got to start having small victories within at-bats” – Aaron Boone when asked what the team can do at this low point.
The brutal second-half play has put the futures of Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone in doubt, at least in the minds of the fan base. Much of the speculation centers on after the season, after the presumed collapse happens.
There’s certainly no benefit in making a change now, right? Don’t ask Ned Yost that question. Yost was the Milwaukee Brewers manager whose 2008 team went from the driver’s seat to clawing for their playoff lives within two weeks in September and was fired with twelve games to go in the season. Third base coach Dale Sveum took over, and guided the team to a 7-5 finish, including winning six of their last seven, to clinch a wild card spot. They later lost in the Divisional Series to the eventual World Series champion Phillies. Did the change work? I guess it depends on how you look at it. The Brewers immediately lost four of their first five contests before righting the ship the last week of the season. The shock of the change seemed to not make much immediate difference in the losing ways, and personally I suspect that a team that had won 83 games didn’t need someone new to teach them how to win seven more games. In the end, the freefall stopped, and the team made their first postseason appearance in over twenty years. Alas, the team had much higher goals earlier in the season, just as the Yankees did pre-All Star break.
Firing Boone would of course mean much more than just changing things up this year. As he has two more years on his contract, terminating him would mean admitting they now considered his hire a mistake. As these are the Hal Steinbrenner Yankees and not the George Steinbrenner Yankees, I’m not sure that there’s a “special advisor” (aka manager in waiting) role available for Boone like after many of the Yanks’ of the '80s firings. Which brings me to my opinion on the matter, which is I don’t see the sense in making such a change. We know about some of the famous changes that turned out so good (Bob Lemon with the 1978 Yankees, Harvey Kuenn with the 1982 Brewers, Jack McKeon with the 2003 Marlins) which make a managerial change so enticing, but most similar moves through the years have failed to have comparable impact.
The culprits in my eyes are the bats that have stopped hitting, and the bullpen that has been toast with injuries. The team has a month to right the ship, which doesn’t seem like much, but don’t forget about the 2007 Rockies, who won fourteen of their last fifteen regular season games, then swept through the NL playoffs and into the World Series. There’s still plenty of baseball left.
Interesting endnote to the story. The seemingly disgraced Yost caught on a couple years later with the Kansas City Royals and steered them through a rebuild to a 2014 American League Pennant and 2015 World Series Championship. The Brewers? Still looking for their first pennant since 1982, and first World Series victory in team history.
Avoid the sweep! Frankie Montas (4-11, 3.94; 0-2, 7.01 in NY) looks for his first Yankee win against Shawn Armstrong (2-1, 4.72). Game time is 1:40.