The Yankees are taking futility to new depths.
After a gift-wrapped victory Tuesday night, when the Atlanta relievers applied the bow, the Yankees were unable to do anything for themselves offensively again in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss, bringing their one-game winning streak to a screeching halt.
The Yankees are now 6-11, their worst start since 1991, and have scored only 59 runs, the fewest through 17 games since they scored 55 in 1984.
Nothing is working. Aaron Boone tried another lineup shuffle Wednesday, moving Gio Urshela to the cleanup spot, and he couldn’t even make it through nine innings. Urshela went 1-for-3 with an infield single, but had to leave after seven due to what the Yankees said was lower-back stiffness.
If Urshela is forced to miss any significant time, that would be another demoralizing blow to a Yankees team already wobbly on its feet. Aside from DJ LeMahieu, Urshela had been their most reliable bat over the previous eight games, hitting .310 (9-for-29) with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs.
Otherwise, the Yankees’ production is abysmal. Their six wins are tied with the Twins and Rockies for the fewest in the majors. They’re also dead last in both OPS (.630) and batting average (.205).
"Forget about the numbers — slugging, on-base, any of that — it comes down to did we win or did we not win?" Aaron Judge said. "Did we get the job done or did we not? Right now we’re not getting the job done."
It’s becoming a new tradition in the Bronx. Not only is a Yankee’s name announced as he leaves the on-deck circle, he’s returned to the dugout with a trumpeting of boos, which have grown to impressive decibel levels for a stadium at only 20% capacity.
The frustration is everywhere. In the batter’s box, the dugout, the box seats, the bleachers. Fortunately, the fans smartened up and stopped the criminal idiocy of throwing baseballs onto the field, as they did last Friday at the start of this putrid homestand (1-4). But the Yankees are deserving targets of the fans’ verbal derision.
They are imposters in pinstripes right now.
"I think when you struggle offensively, there’s that look of a little bit of lifelessness, a little bit of lacking energy," Boone said afterward. "But I think it’s guys in the fight right now that are grinding away.
"So yeah, it’s on all of us to make sure we’re not only locked in — which I know we are — but also while you’re taking your lumps, and getting beat up a little bit, to make sure your mindset is strong, but also positive, especially when we’re talking about guys that you know have a really strong track record."
Giancarlo Stanton is mired in a 3-for-34 swamp. Gleyber Torres’ first-inning single bumped him up to 4-for-31. Gary Sanchez is currently 6-for-32. Clint Frazier finally recorded his first RBI of the season, ending a drought of 69 straight plate appearances with his run-scoring single in the ninth.
Slumps are one thing. They happen. But rarely do they engulf the entire roster simultaneously and the Yankees are playing an uninspired, bleak brand of baseball at the moment. They failed to respond after Boone chewed them out following Friday’s humiliating loss and Brian Cashman’s public vote of confidence apparently didn’t provide much inspiration either. It expired in 48 hours.
Ending the five-game losing streak Tuesday night was a mirage, a glimmer of false hope. The eighth-inning rally came together when three Yankees reached base without taking the bat off their shoulder: two four-pitch walks and an intentional pass. The go-ahead run scored on a wild pitch. The insurance run followed on a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded.
Still, that was an offensive explosion compared with the Yankees’ effort Wednesday, when they managed only five singles total and this time couldn’t even capitalize on more Atlanta freebies (six walks). LeMahieu — their most dangerous RISP threat — meekly grounded out with the bases loaded to end the seventh inning.
Frazier’s bloop single in the ninth helped the Yankees avoid the embarrassment of being shut out, but there were other things to be ashamed of. Most notably Torres hardly making an effort to run out a check-swing tapper in front of the plate, a bad look for a desperate team that can’t take any chance of reaching base for granted.
"I think anytime you got that kind of situation where a guy’s got to get off the mound, you’ve got to get after it," said Boone, who added that he would speak to Torres. "That’s got to be a little better, obviously."
But Torres is hardly alone. Everything has to be better with the Yankees. Period.