August 20, 2022

Schandenfreude 330 (A Continuing Series)

Greg Joyce, Post:

For the first time in a week, the Yankees were reminded of what playing with a lead felt like on Saturday afternoon. 

But that lasted just two full innings before they sunk back to reality. 

Gerrit Cole was unable to protect the one-run lead and the Blue Jays came away with a 5-2 win . . . leading to the Yankees' frustrations boiling over after the game. 

In addition to losing for the 15th time in their last 19 games, and falling to 12-25 over their last 27, the Yankees clinched their sixth straight series loss. . . .

Told that the six straight series losses were a franchise first since at least 1995 (according to ESPN), Boone snapped. 

"No crap," the manager said. "I mean, we've been asked all these questions. We've answered them till we're blue in the face. . . . I gotta quit answering these questions about this date and this perplexion [about the offensive struggles]. . . .

The Yankees' offensive malaise extended to 11 games, during which they have scored just 21 runs — eight of them on Wednesday in an 8-7, 10-inning win over the Rays. . . .

Boone tried rearranging his lineup Saturday in an attempt to find a spark. . . .

Working with a 1-0 lead after the second inning, Cole did not give up a hit until the fifth, when Santiago Espinal smacked a one-out double off the left-field wall. That quickly turned the tide for the Blue Jays. Danny Jansen followed with a walk and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run double for a 2-1 lead. Then, after two infield singles (one on which Cole failed to make a play), Alejandro Kirk hit another two-run double. 

The crowd of 45,538 unloaded a chorus of boos as Cole walked off the mound after the fifth. 

A smattering of boos even found Judge when he struck out looking to lead off the bottom of the fifth. . . .

[T]he Yankees are 21-30 over their last 51 games. Despite the downfall, Boone remained confident his group could snap out of it. 

"We got great freakin' players in there, OK?" an irritated Boone said. "It's a tough stretch, OK? We're all pissed off and frustrated about it. . . . [T]he offense has struggled for 12 days, OK? So that's what it's been, OK?"

Andy McCullough, The Athletic:
The restorative qualities of Josh Donaldson's walk-off grand slam [for New York's] bumbling colossus of a ball club, lasted just shy of 20 hours.

Any pretense of momentum, of a turned page or road forked, evaporated in the second inning of a 9-2 stomping by Toronto. It was at 7:43 p.m., to be precise, when Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hammered a belt-high fastball from Frankie Montas over the right-field wall of Yankee Stadium. The blast capped a five-run rally, a second-inning haymaker that dropped the Yankees for a 12th loss in 16 August games. It was a reminder that one home run, however dramatic, could not cure what ails this club.

No, much more will be required for the Yankees to drag themselves from this muck. . . .

The rotation misses Luis Severino. Neither Clay Holmes nor Aroldis Chapman inspires immediate confidence at the back end of the bullpen. Kicking the ball around has become common on this homestand. And the offense has slumbered in the weeks since Giancarlo Stanton landed on the injured list.

This malaise is not new. . . . [T]he Yankees played .500 baseball in July. . . .

At this rate, in this month the Yankees have spanned the Kübler-Ross gamut:

Denial: "Frustrated with how we've played but still feel really good about our team and how we've done this year as a whole," DJ LeMahieu said after . . . the Cardinals completed a sweep on Aug. 7.

Anger: "It gets more and more frustrating every day that we don't come out and win," catcher Kyle Higashioka said after a bullpen blowup cost the club a series against the Mariners on Aug. 10.

Bargaining: "If you were to tell me at the beginning of the year that we would have a 10-game lead in the middle of August, I think anybody would sign up for that," Judge said after the team finished a 2-7 trip against St. Louis, Seattle and Boston.

Depression: "We need a spark," Cole mused after a shutout loss to Tampa Bay on Monday, a defeat that caused Cole to suggest the Yankees were stumbling through "one of those funks that's hard to put into words." One night later, the offense sparked itself out of its scoreless doldrums, but a single run was not enough to overcome the Rays.

Acceptance: "It's a long season," Boone said on Wednesday.  . . .

The chain of disaster kicked off more than a week before the trade deadline. On the morning of July 24, the day before the first leg of the Subway Series, Stanton woke up with soreness in his left heel. He asked for an MRI. The subsequent examination revealed Achilles tendonitis. He was placed on the injured list a day later and expected to take 10 days off. Three weeks later, he has yet to return. . . .

The twin absences [Stanton and Matt Carpenter] shortened a lineup already dealing with extended slumps from Donaldson, Torres and outfielder Aaron Hicks. Donaldson . . . posted a .660 OPS in the first 24 games of the second half. Hicks entered Thursday batting .116 for the month. With [a] homer on Wednesday, Torres boosted his August OPS to .447.

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