'Awful week': Yankees find another way to lose, swept by the Red Sox to conclude a dreadful homestand
NEW YORK – Affix the blame wherever you see fit – and there were plenty more places to go Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.
But start with this: The Yankees, as constructed, are a mediocre club fighting an uphill battle in the AL East, one that is growing tougher by the day.
After Gleyber Torres’ game-tying RBI double in the ninth gave the Yankees a glimmer of hope, the Red Sox rallied in the 10th for a 6-5 victory, completing a three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium.
It was Boston's first sweep in the Bronx since June 2011.
Monday is an off day, and you wonder if there are any changes in the works – someone coming up, someone going down, someone moving out.
“We can’t sit here and listen to outside noise telling us that we’re this and we’re that,’’ said Aaron Judge, on base four times Sunday.
“We’ve still got 100 games. It’s about continuing to fight, continuing to improve.’’
But 60 games into a season of high expectation in the Bronx, the Yankees (31-29) are a fourth-place team coming off a 2-5 homestand against the first-place Rays and second-place Red Sox (36-23).
And the tense nature of the Yankees' situation led to the ejection of two coaches - including Phil Nevin, not yet back in an official capacity since his COVID quarantine.
Both were the product of calls by home plate umpire Gabe Morales.
Nevin was set off after Rougned Odor struck out looking to end the Yankees' ninth on a questionable full-count pitch.
In the 10th, when Luis Cessa's close full-count pitch resulted in a walk, third base coach Carlos Mendoza was asked to leave, while hitting coach Marcus Thames remained hot.
"Obviously, (we're) very frustrated and you saw some of that emotion spill over,'' said manager Aaron Boone, who felt crew chief Bill Miller's ejection of Mendoza was "absolutely ridiculous.''
After “an awful week for us,’’ Boone said “there’s urgency, but we’re in control of our season and our destiny, very much so.
“We’ve got to find a way to start scratching out some W's.’’
Anatomy of a loss
Cessa recovered to get two outs before Xander Bogaerts delivered a back-breaking two-run single for a 6-4 lead.
After rolling into yet another double play in the 10th, the Yankees were gifted a run and had the tying run at second when DJ LeMahieu's tricky grounder was fielded by second baseman Marwin Gonzalez for the final out.
By grounding into two more double plays and failing to fully exploit rallies, the Yankees had found themselves clinging to a two-run lead into the seventh inning.
And then it disappeared.
Gonzalez lifted a game-tying, two-run homer off Lucas Luetge and a gift double led to Boston’s go-ahead run in the eighth.
LeMahieu was involved in the turning-point play, overrunning Christian Arroyo’s eighth-inning, leadoff pop fly into short right field.
And into the triangle formed by LeMahieu, first baseman Chris Gittens and right fielder Clint Frazier, a catchable ball dropped for a gift double.
Two batters later, Bogaerts’ deep sacrifice fly off Wandy Peralta made it 4-3, Boston.
Employed as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, Giancarlo Stanton – batting as the tying run – was struck out by lefty Josh Taylor.
By then, another disappointed sellout crowd was too exasperated by the home team to fully let them have it, instead matching their lethargy with groans.
And they watched Sox reliever Adam Ottavino, traded to Boston for payroll relief, toss a second scoreless inning in this series.
'We've got to rally''
The Yankees played an uninspiring game Friday, losing the series opener 5-2.
They were in a tie game into Saturday’s eighth inning, before the Red Sox sparked a four-run eighth inning on the way to a 7-3 win.
And now the Yankees have lost four straight games and 10 of their last 13 as they head off on a three-city, eight-game trip Tuesday to Minnesota, Philadelphia and Buffalo, to play the Blue Jays.
“We’ve had our share in these first 60 or so games where we’ve had a couple of stretches where we’ve really taken it on the chin.
“And to be the club we expect to be, we’ve got to rally from that.’'
Stanton sits again
Stanton began on the bench Sunday night, his fourth non-start since being activated May 28 from the injured list due to a strained left quad.
“It’s a little bit of a balancing act right now,” said Boone, who had also benched the slugging designated hitter last Tuesday and Thursday against the first-place Tampa Bay Rays.
Judge served as Sunday’s DH, the 11th time he’s done so since May 15.
“I think there’s some residual stuff,’’ Boone said of Stanton’s work toward building back the strength and endurance “to play at a level he obviously needs to play at.’’
Since returning from the IL, Stanton has been out of sync at the plate, going 2-for-23 with two singles, four walks and 11 strikeouts.
Boone has maintained a steady dialogue with Stanton before and after games to gauge how best to manage him through this period.
“I really am encouraged by the direction he’s moving,’’ Boone said. “And we don’t want to take steps backward, either.
“We know how important he is to what we do.’’
Pete Caldera is the Yankees beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Yankees analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.