April 17, 2021

Schadenfreude 285: (A Continuing Series)

The Yankees (now 5-9) have not had the worst record
in the American League after playing at least 14 games
since May 11, 1991, when they were 9-17.

It's been almost 30 years!*

Greg Joyce, Post:

Yankees Can't Solve Rays Again Even After Stern Aaron Boone Talk

The day after Aaron Boone's stern talk with the Yankees, they came up empty once again. . . .

They lost a fourth straight game, falling 6-3 to the Rays on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

It hardly soothed the frustrations that had arisen Friday night, when the Yankees committed three errors and had another quiet game offensively in an 8-2 loss. Boone addressed his team after that game . . . [but] it did not lead to immediate dividends Saturday. . . .

The Yankees fell to 5-9 on the season and own the worst record in the American League.

After striking out 13 times and batting 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, the Yankees . . . [hope] to avoid a sweep [on Sunday]. . . .

Rays ace Tyler Glasnow lacked command early, but the Yankees could not take advantage . . . [T]he Yankees loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning, but Brett Gardner grounded out to end the threat.

Glasnow walked two more batters to lead off the second inning, leading to [an] RBI single that tied the game at one. But Judge struck out and Hicks lined out to strand two more runners. . . . 

After that, Glasnow settled in, retiring eight straight before LeMahieu walked to lead off the fifth. . . . [S]trikeouts of Judge and Stanton help[ed] him get through the inning with the two-run lead intact. . . .

The Yankees [trailed 5-3 in the seventh, with the tying run at the plate] but Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton struck out . . .

The Yankees . . . are now 3-14 in their last 17 games against the Rays.

[I love the "even" in the headline.]

Sarah Valenzuela, Daily News:

It took seven innings for the Yankees to get the message.

Twelve hours after getting chewed out by Aaron Boone — and the fans — the Bombers finally showed signs of life late in their Saturday matinee against the Rays. But it was too late to save the Yankees on this day.

At least the fans didn't riot.

The Bombers lost 6-3 — a second straight loss to their division rivals . . . to sink further into the AL East basement at 5-9. They have the worst record in the American League and the third-worst in MLB. . . . 

The Yankees continued to struggle getting the big hit and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.

Southpaw Jordan Montgomery . . . didn't clip any batters this time, but was, however, stung by the long ball twice: the first a solo shot by [Francisco] Mejia and the second a two-run shot by Manuel Margot. . . .

Sarah Valenzuela, Daily News:

The Yankees had sunk to a shocking new low.

And so did the fans. It was around 10 p.m. on Friday night when the faithful could no longer tolerate what they were seeing on the field from their beloved Bombers.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Yankees, not the Mets, managed to piss off their fan base so deeply. And on Friday night, fans sitting around the Stadium (in possession of a bizarre number of rogue baseballs) started throwing balls onto the field the Rays were occupying while Clint Frazier was getting ready to bat. . . .

The game had already been mostly unwatchable to that point, but the look of disappointment that crossed Yankee players faces over the YES Network broadcast, said what anyone else watching from afar knew.

This is not the way fans should express their frustration about a team with the worst record in the American League after 13 games. . . .

But the record stands that the Yankees, for all their championship or bust talk, have not been performing to their capability and there's no sugar coating it.

Ken Davidoff, Post:

Umm … at least the Yankees embarrassed themselves less on The Day After? . . .

At least fans didn't pelt the Yankee Stadium field with baseballs or any other round projectiles?

Baby steps, right? Yet what the Yankees really need to escape this existential funk are more big flies. . . .

Ultimately, though, it proved the same old story, as the Yankees struck out 13 times and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position to fall to 5-9, the worst record in the American League. What stood out from this tale, though, was how the Rays prevailed offensively:

Six hits, three of them long balls. Their first five runs came via the homer. The Yankees countered with five hits . . .

The Yankees' problem right now isn't that they're overly dependent on the home run. It's that they're not hitting enough home runs. . . .

It's challenging to string together a bunch of hits against someone as good as Glasnow, who now sports a 0.73 ERA. It's no easy assignment to go deep off him, either, yet if you succeed once at that, you've impacted the scoreboard, which is why clubs emphasize launch angle and sell out for the homer, accepting the strikeouts in return. , , ,

The Yankees have 15 homers in their 14 games, putting them toward the bottom of the AL pack. Even more alarming, their .354 slugging percentage gave them the AL's worst, by a comfortable margin ([Texas] ranked next-to-last at .366) heading into Saturday night's action. . . .

[Aaron Boone:] "There have been a handful of pitches each game that typically we do our damage on.  . . . When you do get a mistake, you'd better hammer it."

Right now, the Yankees are the nail.

Mike Lupica, Daily News:

Of course nobody should be panicking now because they came into Saturday at 5-8. You can see the state of the American League East, and how fast things can change and will change in that division over the course of the season. I thought the Red Sox were a dreary and unwatchable mess after they got swept by the Orioles at Fenway after their opening series, and they turned around and won nine in a row and nearly made it 10 on Thursday afternoon . . .

No, the problem with this season, at least so far, is that it looks an awful lot like last season. . . .

[T]he Yankees in the early going make you wonder how in the world they still think they can come into the season saying World Series or bust, after having won exactly one Series and played in one other since the roof caved in on them in Game 7 in 2001.

"It's the same thing every year," one respected baseball executive said to me on Friday. "They talk about the World Series before they prove they're good enough to win a division series."

This week I asked a Yankee fan friend of mine who follows the team closely enough to cover it what he has seen from his team so far. Here's part of what he said:

They can still win a wide-open AL East and even a wide-open American League, but it's not too early to believe that absolutely nothing has changed with these Yankees, that this still looks like a team that won't have the necessary kick to get them across the finish line six months from now. Last season can no longer be dismissed as a small sample size. The team we had last summer and last October remains the team we have now. They are a flawed team that will have to overcome their flaws as well as three teams in their own division — the Rays, Jays and Red Sox — who have been given no reason whatsoever to be scared of them.

Somehow they still cling to this silly idea that you don't need left-hander hitters, at least good ones — especially in Yankee Stadium of all places — to win baseball games. Other than that, yeah, things look great. After working hard to get out from under a top-heavy roster with bloated contracts, the Yankees are back to having —wow, guess what — a top-heavy roster of bloated contracts. At least Gerrit Cole is holding up his end of the bargain. Stanton? Even when he gets around to hitting home runs, he is still an anchor tying up too much payroll for a team that appears to be in dire need of another piece or two to really be considered anything special.

He makes sense about all of it. You know when the Yankees have won the World Series without a dangerous left-handed bat in their order. Never. . . .

[T]he issue with starting pitching once you get past Cole never goes away. They've got a second baseman playing shortstop and they've got one star in their outfield . . . Aaron Judge . . . has now conditioned Yankee fans to hold their breath every time he swings hard, or runs the bases hard, or chases down another ball in the outfield. . . .

They were supposed to scare the rest of the division this season. Coming into the weekend, they were only scaring themselves. And their own fans.

This is a perfect quote:

It's the same thing every year. They talk about the World Series before they prove they're good enough to win a division series.

* * *

*: It was reported after Friday's game that the MFY last had the AL's worst record in April 1998. But that was after only three games (0-3), plus as I recall they ended up doing okay that season. I wanted to know when they last had the worst record in the AL after 14 (or more) games?

At BRef, I began in 1966 when I knew they were absolutely terrible. They finished that season in 10th place. I went through each season's game-by-game log, sorting by division "ranking" and looking for the latest date they were in last place, then (after divisional play began in 1969) checking the standings for each team's winning percentage.

The Yankees had the worst AL record at the end of play on August 5, 1967 (45-59). As I scrolled along, I found more recent dates:

End of day May 31, 1974 (23-27).

End of day May 18, 1975 (13-20).

End of day May 4, 1984 (8-16).

The Yankees finished the 1990 season with the AL's worst record (October 3, 1990): 67-95. (In MLB, only Atlanta (playing in the NL West) was worse: 65-97.) Oh, such fond memories of Stump Merrill!

End of day May 11, 1991 (9-17).

And once I got to the 1998 season, I had my answer.

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