New York Yankees' Alex Verdugo lays on the ground after...

New York Yankees' Alex Verdugo lays on the ground after getting tagged out at home plate during the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. Credit: AP/Pamela Smith

June 15 doesn’t seem that long ago, but the Yankees have lived multiple (miserable) lives since then.

They entered that day with the best record in baseball (50-22), a breathtakingly potent lineup and a pitching staff seemingly allergic to allowing runs. And they ended that day with a loss to Boston — annoying, sure, but an inevitable part of a long season that to that point had been nothing short of charmed.

But you almost have to wonder if there was some sort of interstellar portal at Fenway Park that day — one that took the Yankees team that we watched dominate for almost three months and replaced them with a bizarro roster from another dimension. Because ever since that fateful evening, this Yankees team has been quantum leaping from game to game, hoping to find the one victory that will reignite the fire that fueled them earlier in the season.

And frankly, it is going really, really poorly, and if you need any proof, you can just look at Friday night’s 5-3 10-inning loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium — a game in which the Yankees were a mere strike from closing it out before Masataka Yoshida’s two-run homer off Clay Holmes tied it in the ninth.

“It’s a tough one, especially considering what we’re going through right now,” Aaron Boone said. “We’ve got to dig down . . . and find out what we’re made of a little bit.”

The fear, though, is that the Yankees are finding out what they’re made of, and it’s not good.

On Thursday, Aaron Judge’s personal hitting coach, Richard Schenk, eviscerated the franchise on X. “They’ve lost 13 out of 18 while [Judge is] hitting like an MVP. The Yankees offensive player development is terrible.”

Ouch, right?

But it’s possible Schenk is on to something, and given the current state of the franchise, it’s certainly worth exploring — particularly considering that if someone is going to be in the captain’s ear, it’s probably going to be the hitting guru he entrusts with his $360 million swing.

Either way, something needs to change, and even though we’re just past the halfway point, this looks to be a pivotal series for the scuffling franchise.

Beginning with that loss in Boston, the Yankees have gone 4-14, and somehow their play has been even uglier than that. On Friday, that included three lapses — one of them indefensible.

With Anthony Volpe on third, DJ LeMahieu on first and one out in the third, Ben Rice hit a grounder to first that could have and should have driven in the game’s first run. But LeMahieu didn’t bother trying to get into a rundown to extend the play and Volpe took his time running home, even pulling up before crossing the plate and turning his head to watch what was going on. The Red Sox were able to tag LeMahieu before Volpe touched the plate, ending the inning and costing the Yankees a run.

The Yankees then committed two throwing errors in the eighth — one by Austin Wells and another by Luke Weaver — although they escaped that jam.

All this means is that the Yankees fell three games behind the AL East-leading Orioles and are a mere 4 1⁄2 games ahead of the Red Sox, with no respite in sight. Before this 4-14 slide, they were 3 1⁄2 games ahead of Baltimore and 14 ahead of Boston.

“We’ve got to play better than that,” Boone said. “We certainly understand that and invest a lot in that and we’ve got to play clean baseball, especially when it’s hard and things are hard to come by.”

The thing, though, is that it’s not one big fix. Not when so many preventable things have gone wrong. Last week, it was Marcus Stroman yelling at Gleyber Torres who, up to that point, had made some pretty egregious errors this season (Boone temporarily benched Torres after he didn’t run out a grounder during the Subway Series). On Thursday, Trent Grisham was charged with an error when he didn’t hustle in to field Jeimer Candelario’s single and then had it kick off his glove — a play Boone acknowledged was a “bad look,” especially considering the team’s current malaise.

The Yankees aren’t just being hurt by talent issues. They’re being hurt by hustle issues, and sometimes a lack of baseball IQ.

Going into Friday, they had a major league-worst 6.69 ERA since June 15 and had allowed 31 homers, second-most in baseball. Their bullpen led the league in inherited runners scored: 17 of 31.

Their offense also has suffered. Granted, they’re without Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo, but other than Judge and Juan Soto, everyone has struggled. Entering Friday, they were batting .221 in that span, which was fourth-worst in baseball, and had grounded into an MLB-worst 17 double plays. In all, their .235 win percentage in that period was the worst in the league. They hadn’t stolen a single base, and giving away an extra base, as Grisham did, is not something this team can afford.

It’s almost baffling to see such a stark reversal, and sometimes it seems as if the Yankees are a little too even-keeled. Sure, there’s value in not panicking, but there’s also value in acknowledging that this team is starting to wade into very dangerous waters.

“We’ve got to be better, period,” Boone said.

They’ll have to be to rediscover the team that disappeared into the ether on June 15.


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