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Yankees Start Important Road Trip With a Bang, But Leave Seattle With Bad Taste in Mouth

SEATTLE — Before first pitch on Tuesday night, Yankees manager Aaron Boone made it clear that he and his players have grasped what's at stake. 

"We understand the importance of these games, and obviously, the hole that we've dug for ourselves here in the first half of the season," Boone said. "This is a very important week for us. Hopefully, we can get it off on a good note tonight."

In a season full of inconsistencies and discouraging performances, it wouldn't have been surprising to see New York come out flat and struggle, finding a way to beat themselves. Instead, the Bombers opened their six-game road trip with a bang, pouring it on offensively while simultaneously stifling Seattle's bats.

Not only did the Yankees set new season highs with 12 runs and 18 hits, starter Jameson Taillon was electric over seven strong innings. Shaking hands at the end of the night, the Yankees had secured themselves a series-opening victory in dominant fashion, beating the Mariners, 12-1.

The Bombers knocked around ex-Yankees prospect Justus Sheffield as the likes of Luke Voit and Aaron Judge began to tear the cover of the ball. Better yet, New York followed up that performance with another complete win, defeating Seattle on Thursday night, 5-4. 

Yankees' Voit Shows He's Far More Than Just a Power Hitter With First Five-Hit Game

Winning a series is exactly what this team needed. It's a club in fourth place in the division, desperately coveting momentum to climb out of a hole they've created for themselves in the American League East. 

And yet, as New York departs from Seattle on Thursday evening, headed to play the Astros in their final series before the All-Star break, it feels like this team has taken three steps back after two steps forward.

The Yankees were blanked in the series finale on Thursday afternoon, mustering just one hit in a 4-0 loss. Mariners starter Logan Gilbert was practically perfect, tossing seven shutout innings. The rookie baffled the Bombers, setting a new career-high with eight strikeouts.  

Between Gilbert, reliever Paul Sewald and closer Kendall Graveman, Seattle retired 24 of the final 25 Yankees batters of the game. That stretch extended from Voit's hit by pitch in the second to DJ LeMahieu getting grazed by an errant offering from Graveman with one out in the ninth. 

In a way, this three-game progression at T-Mobile Park embodies the struggles this team has confronted all year long. New York simply hasn't been able to take advantage of opportunities, failing to build on promising performances. 

"Obviously a great opportunity today with a chance to sweep a series and frustrating that we got held down," Boone said Thursday after the loss. "We just couldn't mount anything against them."

Sure, all big-league teams will gladly take a series win on the road, but with a prime opportunity to kick off a trip with a sweep, a loss like this one is debilitating. After all, the Yankees are now 3-8 in games where they've had an opportunity to sweep a series this season. Each game is different, but they all count the same in the standings and right now, New York needs all the help they can get. 

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery allowed two home runs in the first two innings, putting the Yankees behind by three in the early going. He settled into a groove, but had no run support to speak of.

With the way this team had been swinging the bat, the three-run deficit didn't feel insurmountable at first. Then, New York's offense rattled off six 1-2-3 innings in a row.

So, where do the Yankees go from here? There are certainly positives from this trip to file away and feed off of, but with a tough matchup in Houston this weekend, returning to Minute Maid Park for the first time since a heartbreaking defeat in the 2019 postseason, the Bombers surely would've benefited from an added spark by sweeping this series. 

With right-hander Michael King headed to the injured list with a finger contusion, funky southpaw Nestor Cortes will take the ball on Friday in Houston. Then, it's Gerrit Cole toeing the rubber against his former team on Saturday before Taillon starts on Sunday.

Two wins to begin the series after dropping seven of nine is a step in the right direction by all means. But this team can't afford to be complacent, sitting nearly 10 games out in the division. Too many losses like this in the month of July, and who knows where New York will stand when it comes time for the Trade Deadline in just a few weeks. 

"I thought we played really good this series," DJ LeMahieu said. "Feel like our at-bats were really good. Today, not so much. Gotta go out tomorrow and get a W."


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