The Yankees are reverting to their early-season form, just in time for the stretch run.
For those not paying close attention to the 2021 club, no, that is not a good thing.
Again making their recent 13-game winning streak seem as if it occurred in some other season, the Yankees lost their third straight Monday afternoon, mostly sleepwalking through an 8-0 loss to the hard-charging Blue Jays in front of 31,196 agitated fans at the Stadium.
The Yankees (78-59), who have lost seven of nine since the winning streak, suddenly aren’t nearly as postseason-secure as it once appeared, even when it comes to a wild-card berth.
They are 8 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Rays and a half-game ahead of the Red Sox for the top wild-card spot (fortunately for the Yankees, the Rays came back from a 7-1 deficit to beat the Red Sox, 11-10, in 10 innings). The Blue Jays (74-62), who have won five straight, and the Mariners are 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees and the A’s are another half-game back.
The Yankees, who fell to 28-33 against the AL East this season, had one runner (Brett Gardner) reach second base and committed three errors (two by Gio Urshela and one by Gleyber Torres). They managed only five hits, all singles.
In their three straight losses, Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, the Nos. 2-3-4 hitters, have gone 1-for-35 with 18 strikeouts.
"Today wasn’t a very good day for us, obviously," Aaron Boone said. "We have to get it rolling offensively. We have to do better than that."
Jameson Taillon gave up back-to-back homers in the first by Marcus Semien (who hit a grand slam off Brooks Kriske in the ninth to make it 8-0) and Vlad Guerrero Jr. to put his team in a quick hole, but he was not the issue.
The Yankees’ offense was.
Hyun Jin Ryu (13-8, 3.77) allowed three hits in six innings, striking out six, and three relievers finished the shutout.
"It felt like for a little while there, we really couldn’t lose if we tried. It seemed like everything we did was the right move," said Taillon, who allowed three runs and three hits but went seven innings, which did help protect a bullpen that has been severely taxed of late. "Now it’s kind of feeling like maybe one day we’ll hit a bunch and then we won’t pull our weight on the starting side . . . It’s one of those things when you all need to be pulling your weight at the same time together, pulling on the rope in the same direction."
Semien laid into Taillon’s seventh pitch of the game, a hanging slider, and sent it into the leftfield seats for his 36th homer.
Guerrero then continued a monstrous age-22 season, extending his hitting streak to 14 games by hitting a full-count curveball over the rightfield wall for his 40th homer and a 2-0 lead. Guerrero, who had three hits, is hitting .321 with 1.014 OPS.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. added an RBI single off Taillon in the seventh. In the ninth, Kriske, who hadn’t pitched for the Yankees since July 22, allowed a home run by Teoscar Hernandez on his second pitch. After three walks, Semien hit a two-out grand slam for his 37th homer.
"When you’re winning, you never think you’re going to lose, and when you get into a little rut, it’s hard to get out of it," said Anthony Rizzo, who went 2-for-3, including a bunt single. "But it’s [about] staying the course and going through the routines and making sure everyone’s properly ready. We have to grind together and we are, and it’s just that moment in the season. It’s early September . . . we’d rather struggle now than later in the year. We’ve got four weeks left to just get rolling."