Entering play on Wednesday, the Yankees had a 9-1 record when slugger Aaron Judge hit more than one homer in a game.
That in mind, New York had two big reasons to be confident about securing a victory after Judge pummeled his second long ball of the game against the Blue Jays in the fourth inning.
The problem is, that one loss when Judge went deep twice came against Toronto in 2017. Wednesday was no different.
Despite the big day at the plate for Judge, his second three-hit performance of the young season, New York's offense flat out disappeared when it mattered most. Yankees hitters managed to get on base just three times over their final 18 plate appearances of the game—from two outs in the fourth through the top of the ninth—in a 5-4 loss to Toronto in Dunedin.
"Just inconsistent. That's the word that I keep coming back to," Judge said after the game. "Just not consistently having quality at-bats, putting the ball in play when we need to, situational hitting. Tie all that together and it isn't a good recipe."
The Yankees went 2-4 on their first road trip of the season, dropping both series against their division rivals. While the bullpen has picked up the slack, keeping New York in striking distance when starters get knocked out early, the bats simply aren't "banging," as manager Aaron Boone explained.
"We've got to play better obviously in every area," Boone explained. "There's some mistakes we're making. Obviously the 'pen has done a really nice job for us. When you're not banging, you've got to do little things really well. That's catch the ball, run the bases. We know eventually we are going to start banging, I have a ton of confidence in our guys and can't wait to see them turn the corner, but in the meantime, especially when you're in these dogfights where you're not breaking breaking games open, you got to play real clean."
It was Gary Sánchez's baserunning blunder that abruptly put an end to the Yankees' late-inning rally on Tuesday night. While no jarring mistakes were made on Wednesday, it was New York's inability to pass the baton and put runs on the board that had Judge and his teammates feeling frustrated.
"We haven't been able to get it done lately and it's just time to regroup and figure out what we need to work on, figure out what guys need to improve on and get back to it," the slugger said.
Judge added a sharp single to the left side in the eighth frame, following his two solo shots in his first two at-bats. The right fielder is now leading the Yankees with four homers, a .308 batting average, .615 slugging percentage and 1.002 OPS this year.
"Obviously got us off to a good start in that first inning and then really hit a Judgey one to center [in the fourth] where he got inside that ball and really put a charge into it," Boone said.
New York can recharge on Thursday, taking advantage of an off day. Then, the Tampa Bay Rays come to town, reigniting the bad blood from this AL East rivalry at Yankee Stadium for the first time in 2021.
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