The New York Yankees are used to winning championships — 27 to be exact. But if the team’s recent nine game homestand is any indication of what’s to come, 28 is probably not a realistic goal.
With three games each against Seattle, Oakland and Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Bombers largely came up short, posting just a 3-6 record to push their overall record to 7-10 before embarking on a nine-game roadtrip.
Many storylines emerged throughout the home struggles, but none were more constant than the team’s failure with runners in scoring position.
The Yankees were nine for 79, good for just a .114 average, in the situation over the nine games. The shortcoming was most noticeable in the opening series against the Mariners, where the team was one for 35.
Manager Joe Girardi and players alike shared their frustrations on the topic throughout the homestand, and many hoped that it would change in due time. In one postgame press conference, Girardi’s frustrations boiled over to even include sarcastic commentary regarding visiting a psychic to aid the team’s woes in the situation.
The only positive by the end of the homestand was that the team slashed seven of their nine hits in the situation in their final four games, good for a markedly better .212 line over the same span.
What else went wrong? While the Yankees had the fifth fewest defensive errors in the league following the homestand, the team has not played fundamental baseball this season. They’ve struggled to generate productive outs, and their mental awareness has been alarming at times.
Didi Gregorius was the perfect example. First, the shortstop failed to get a bunt down in the ninth inning of last Tuesday’s game with two runners on base in a tie game. The Yankees would go on to lose 3-2 in 11 innings.
The following night, Gregorius was worse, running into an inning-ending double play with two runners on in the seventh inning and the Yankees down two runs. Gregorius’ baserunning blunder took a run off the board, and the Yankees went on to lose 5-2.
Yogi Berra famously referred to the game as 90-percent mental, and Alex Rodriguez expressed equal concern last week.
“There’s no question about it — we do have to tighten up and play good, fundamental baseball,” the Yankees designated hitter said. “Those things concern you more in the long run, because in order for us to be a good team, we want to do all the little things.”
The 40-year-old is right. Add only 24 runs scored in nine games and injuries to Aaron Hicks, Branden Pinder and Alex Rodriguez, and it doesn’t look good for the Bronx faithful.
The team will have to continue to ride its bullpen and its starters as it hits the road. With the exception of Michael Pineda’s Sunday blowup, starters compiled an ERA just north of four on the homestand.