Bronx, NY- Late Friday afternoon the first place Red Sox were on the field at Yankee Stadium and had plenty of time for batting practice. They did the usual pre-game drills on the infield and outfield. But the Yankees were not on the field as they normally would be first doing their drills as the home team.
Blame COVID this time and an array of Yankees that are feeling the brunt of a virus that refuses to go down for the final out. And Thursday night was not in the plan for the Yankees, Red Sox, and Major League Baseball all attributed to another disruption of COVID hitting the Yankees.
They played baseball Friday night. The Yankees were cleared after COVID testing and tracing was complete but make no mistake about the severity of the outcome. The Yankees are without their best hitter Aaron Judge, catcher Kyle Higashioka, and third baseman Gio Ursehla because of MLB COVID protocols.
And The Yankees placed Luke Voit on the injured list with left knee inflammation.
They are without pitchers Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta and that hurts an already taxed bullpen that saw an implosion from closer Aroldis Chapman before the All=Star break.
Instead, manager Aaron Boone was behind closed doors with his team and putting a pre game plan together for the start of an abbreviated three-game series with a Red Sox team that has a command over the Yankees in the division.
Let’s be realistic here. The Yankees and playing baseball in October are not about the division title after the Red Sox 4-0 shutout Friday night. After completing the first half at 17-24, and with an anemic offense, the division leading Red Sox have widened the gap over the Yankees.
“Another gut punch,” manager Aaron Boone said after their Sunday ninth inning bullpen meltdown in Houston that prevented a three-game series sweep over their AL West rivals.
It was more than a gut punch Friday night in the Bronx. Get used to Cris Gittens, Trey Amburgey, and Tim Locastro. They are the names in the lineup for Boone and will try and get the Yankees back in this thing.
“We’re in the hole,” Boone said. “We;ve got to play really good baseball to get back into this. We;ve got to have that focus, walking in those doors every day. Rinse and repeat. The urgency has to be absolutely there every single day.”
With 25 games remaining with the Red Sox and Rays, a Wild Card is the Yankees only possibility of salvaging a miserable and underachieving 46-44 They have to leap ahead for the consolation prize with Tampa Bay and Oakland leading the pack by 4-½ games and at this juncture there is always a chance.
However, after Friday night those wild Card chances also don’t look good. The Yankees continue to chase bad pitches. Giancarlo Stanton went 0-for-4 and three Red Sox pitchers struck him out three times.
Remember baseball is played everyday but things have been going in the wrong trend for the Yankees and now COVID has become another issue. In the meantime, Boone will have to go with this makeship lineup of call ups from Triple A Scranton.
Stanton, of course, needs to produce .In seven games all won by the Red Sox, Stanton is 3-for- 26 with 16 strikeouts. To say the least, he is part of the Yankees issue and continues to be inconsistent, But the opportunity for the Yankees to get one of two AL Wild Card spots is a task.
They need to win a lot of ball games. And with the Red Sox, Rays, and a few interleague games with the Phillies in between, their task is difficult and crucial.
So the next two weeks could determine if the Yankees play baseball in October or if they go home and become fans like you and me. And by then, it could be determined if the Yankees become buyers or sellers prior to the July 30 non-waiver trade deadline.
At this pace they appear to be more like sellers. And we know why the Yankees are in this position. Had this team played to expectations, a pre-season pick by most to lead the Al East, there would be more talk about adding an addition or two to secure that spot of playing deep in October.
Said Gary Sanchez through an interpreter “We’re missing important players in our lineup.We have a lot of young players that are here now. It’s time for them to step up and help out.”
Sanchez, though, needs to step up. He went hitless in three at bats after 16 of his last 26 hits went for extra base hits before the break.
So now is the time for the Yankees inconsistent lineup to produce. More consistency from Gleyber Torres, Stanton and Urshela when they return Rougned Odor, and DJ LeMahieu are culprits.
Just unfortunate that Judge is down because his bat is needed.He is the team leader in average (.282), Home runs (21), and RBI with 47.
Brett Gardner, the longest tenured Yankee, obviously the Yankees are hurt more with his presence in the lineup and his team leading two triples are an indication as to where this offense stands.
Regardless, this is a Yankees team that was built to win with the home run ball and in the first half the long balls were far, few, and in between. And most of their team combined total (114) have not come with runners on base which leads to a 20th ranked offense of 4.16 runs per game.
So of course, and with a lineup that is capable and reputed as they are, the Yankees lineup could at any time turn the tide and play to their potential. However, it would take winning 49 of their final 73 games with teams that are playing .500 ball or better.
And to me that task is difficult because the Yankees have difficulty winning games against the Red Sox, Rays, and Blue Jays, all playing above .500 baseball.
Comment: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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