NEW YORK — Returning home from an ugly sweep at the hands of the Red Sox in Boston, Yankees manager Aaron Boone did his best to express some urgency regarding the state of his club.
"Our season's on the line," Boone said Monday afternoon. "Too many ups and downs and we're in too good a division to have those ups and downs continue. We can't afford the play great for two weeks and struggle for a week. Not if we're going to make up ground."
Hours later, after yet another uninspiring loss to open a four-game set with the visiting Angels, Boone and the Bombers are back to the drawing board.
New York fell flat once again, managing three runs on six scattered hits in a 5-3 loss to Los Angeles. Giancarlo Stanton homered, Gio Urshela had two knocks and an RBI, but the same problems that have plagued this supposed offensive juggernaut all season continue to persist.
The Yankees were hitless with runners in scoring position, going 0-for-4. An early deficit—including a booming home run from Shohei Ohtani in the first—turned out to be insurmountable. New York made sloppy mistakes on the defensive side of the ball as well.
Even after Angels starter Dylan Bundy abruptly left the game in the second inning with heat exhaustion—throwing up behind the mound before exiting early—New York was held to just two hits over the next 5.1 innings by left-handed reliever José Suarez.
Boone and members of the Yankees that stopped by the Yankees Zoom room after the game sounded dejected and discouraged. While their faith about this team turning from a fourth-place club into a contender hasn't wavered, the frustration continues to grow.
"I've got a lot of respect for everybody in that locker room," starter Michael King said after taking the loss. "I still have a lot of faith that we'll get it together, but it has not clicked yet and it's frustrating."
King mentioned that veterans like Gerrit Cole, Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge have been leading conversations in the clubhouse of late as this group continues to battle through the peaks and (deep) valleys of this campaign.
The fact of the matter is that this team is spiraling, looking more and more each day like a group of ballplayers bound to watch the postseason from the comfort of their homes in October. Fingers can be pointed for what's leading to these poor results three months into the regular season and who might be responsible, but at the end of the day, it's on the players to perform.
"We just haven't showed up every night," Stanton said. "We'll have spurts of it. But this game, these seasons, this uniform isn't about spurts, it's about showing up every night. So we've got to pick it up."
Boone's positivity returned in his postgame presser, but he also recognized that "talk is cheap."
"We've got to go do it," Boone said solemnly. "As disappointing and as frustrating as we are to not grab this first one because especially coming off the weekend we had, we gotta go play tomorrow and try and dig ourselves out of this."
Monday night's performance puts the Yankees 7.5 games out of first place in the American League East and six games back of a Wild Card spot. Just when it looked like this club had turned a corner—winning seven of nine games not long ago—they're back to sitting just two games above .500.
Nonetheless, as he's made clear all year long, Boone isn't giving up on this team any time soon.
"It's gonna be challenging, but the history of this game is littered with teams that have overcome far bigger deficits than us," he said. "Again, talk is cheap. We've got to go perform. We got to perform at a high level if we're going to be the club we expect to be. We got to keep competing at it."
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