After a leadoff single from Aaron Hicks to start the ninth inning on Tuesday, the Yankees needed to string a couple hits together to get back to striking distance against the Blue Jays.
What happened next was not just the story of the night, but one of this teams biggest trends of the entire season thus far.
Rougned Odor bounced into a double play, wiping away New York's leadoff base runner. It was the Yankees' third of the game and 14th of the season, tied for the most in all of baseball (with the San Diego Padres).
Asked after the game about New York's inability to avoid the double play ball this season, manager Aaron Boone explained that it's part of the game.
"Once we get it rolling offensively, you're going to hit into your share of double plays, especially, with our team that we're not the fastest as a group necessarily," Boone said following a 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays. "We have a lot of guys that hit the ball hard, so that's going to come with it and even when we're rolling, we're going to hit into our share of double plays. I just want us to kind of collectively really start grinding pitchers down, that's when we're at our best and that's what we haven't quite done yet."
As Boone alluded to, this team hasn't started clicking on offense just yet. New York is now 5-6 on the year and overall, hasn't looked like the offensive juggernaut that we've seen from this unit in years past. They've shown flashes in the pan, but haven't been able to produce at a consistent rate on that side of the ball.
New York has a total of 11 home runs in as many games. Several hitters have even gone through stretches where they've looked lost at the plate, held hitless for games at a time.
Even someone as talented in the batter's box as infielder DJ LeMahieu, who won the American League batting title last season, has slumped for his standards, going 2-for-12 in his last three games entering play on Tuesday. After the game—LeMahieu's fourth multi-hit performance of the year—the infielder assured that he isn't worried about himself or his teammates.
He knows this group will figure it out.
"Overall, we've had our really good games and then we've had some mistakes," LeMahieu explained. "I mean, that's how it goes. I feel like our mistakes and some of our losses right now are pretty glaring, but that's baseball. Just like me at the plate, I know our team's gonna start clicking here real soon. And hopefully sooner rather than later. I know we're real close."
Boone echoed LeMahieu's sentiments with a simple reminder: "hitting is hard."
"It's a game of failure," he said. "We haven't collectively strung really good at-bats together like we're capable of yet so it's frustrating anytime you're not scoring the way we're capable of. You just really got to keep your nose down and really just continue to work for having quality at bats and trust that the results will follow from there."
LeMahieu leads the team with three double plays.
"It's just one of those things where you just want to keep being aggressive," LeMahieu said. "You don't want to sit up there at the plate and say, I can't ground into a double play because you're probably gonna end up doing it.
We should stay aggressive and probably just swing out better pitches, have a little bit better plate discipline. I'm sure that's probably a big reason. We're fine. I'm not worried about it at all."
With 151 games to go this season, it's not time to panic. Up and down New York's lineup, everyone has the time and tools to find a groove and begin to collectively produce the numbers we're accustomed to seeing from those in pinstripes.
Boone is hopeful three runs in the late innings on Tuesday, off Toronto's high-leverage relievers, will serve as a catalyst heading into the rubber game of the series on Wednesday and beyond.
"Hopefully some good at-bats and some real good contact there can be a little spark and get us going because we know what we're capable of," the skipper said. "We know what what we expect to do offensively and hopefully a couple guys having some success can get the ball rolling for us."
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