The Yankees, whose season could end with a whimper on Sunday night after Saturday’s 5-0 loss to the Astros in Game 3 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium, have played eight postseason games. They have lost five.
In those eight games, the Yankees have used four different leadoff batters, four different leftfielders, three different shortstops and three different designated hitters (including in-game substitutions).
All that’s missing is two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.
Aaron Boone and his lineup-making “helpers” in the front office are doing their best. Really. But the team hasn’t hit nearly enough, starting with its two megastars, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, with the one big exception of the deciding Game 5 against the Guardians in the Division Series.
Stanton hit a three-run homer, Judge hit a solo shot and the Yankees took the series from Cleveland.
Like the Mets with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, the Yankees’ postseason plans centered on their two stars dominating. It didn’t work out for the Mets and isn’t working out for the Yankees.
Judge and Stanton went a combined 1-for-8 on Saturday. They are a combined 10-for-60 (.167) in the postseason.
“You always want to be your best,” Judge said. “I wouldn’t say as I go, we go. We’ve got a lot of individuals on this team that can carry the club. I’ve got to step up and do my job. I haven’t come up with the big hit. Missed a couple the other night. But we’ve still got a lot of ballgame in us, and just got to take care of business.”
Unless the Yankees can find a way to suddenly channel the 2004 Red Sox, they are going to become the 39th out of 40 MLB teams to not recover from an 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game series.
All the lineup-tinkering in the world wasn’t going to matter if Stanton didn’t hit like a guy making $325 million and if Judge didn’t hit like a guy who wants about as much in his upcoming free agency.
It’s fair to say Judge upped his value with his record-setting regular season. It’s also fair to wonder if his lack of postseason success will make it easier for the Yankees to let him walk if the dollars on a new contract don’t make sense.
Judge is 5-for-32 (.156) in this postseason with two home runs, three RBIs and 14 strikeouts after going 0-for-4 with two Ks on Saturday.
For his career, Judge is a .216 hitter with 13 home runs in 43 postseason games. Stanton is 5-for-28 (.179) this postseason with two home runs and six RBIs. He has been a beast in past playoffs, but with the exception of ALDS Game 5, that has not been the case in 2022.
The Yankees gave the superior Astros a good battle in the first two games in Houston before coming up a little short. A little short is the distance between Judge’s eighth-inning drive in Game 2 being either a go-ahead home run or a long, lamented out. No shame there.
There should be a little shame in Boone’s postgame statement Thursday that “the roof open kind of killed us” and losing pitcher Luis Severino’s assertion that because Alex Bregman’s three-run homer was only 91 mph off the bat and Judge’s out left the bat at 106 mph, the Astros were “lucky.”
Somehow the Astros are always “lucky” when they face the Yankees in the postseason. If Houston closes out this series, it will be the fourth time they’ve ousted the Yankees in the playoffs in eight years.
Context, schmontext, this is a sound-bite world. The clip of Boone sounding as if he was blaming the Yankees’ loss on the roof dynamics came off as whining, not winning.
It’s not as if the Yankees have never gotten breaks in the postseason. Reggie Jackson sticking out his hip in the 1978 World Series. The pitch to Tino Martinez that should have been strike three before his grand slam in the 1998 World Series.
Severino’s statement was even more troublesome because it disrespects the Astros, who have beaten the Yankees eight times in 10 meetings in 2022 and held them to a .144 batting average.
That’s more than luck.
Even after losing the first two games, the Yankees had a chance to make a series of it at home in Game 3. Instead, Judge distracted Harrison Bader on a routine fly ball to right-center in the second, leading to Bader dropping the ball for an error.
Gerrit Cole mouthed “I got you” to Bader. Then he gave up a two-run homer by No. 9 hitter Chas McCormick.
The Astros’ three-run sixth pretty much ended this one and turned a hopeful sellout crowd into an understandably surly bunch.
Judge even heard some boos after he struck out for the second time in the sixth. In the eighth, with two on and two out, the fans hardly reacted after Judge got jammed and grounded to third. The crowd, like Judge, went out with a whimper.