The Yankees are not bad, they are ordinary

BOSTON – He stood in foul territory along the straight pitch line on Tuesday, returning to the scene of his famous home run long ago on ...


BOSTON – He stood in foul territory along the straight pitch line on Tuesday, returning to the scene of his famous home run long ago on a golden October afternoon. Bucky Dent, 69, silver hair under his Yankees cap, had arrived from Florida to watch his former team take on the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park with the season in play.

Suddenly, a bullet roared in his direction.

“They are trying to kill me here! Dent exclaimed, but it was a friendly shot from batting practice, a liner hooked by a Yankee who shook his legs. It turned out to be one of the hardest balls the Yankees hit all night.

There were no new heroes on the Yankees side of baseball’s biggest rivalry. There hasn’t been one for a while. The Red Sox eliminated the Yankeesquickly and vigorously, in a 6-2 victory in the American League joker game. The Yankees struck out 11 aimlessly on balls, and the last six spots in their roster combined to be 1 for 20 with a field single.

“My stomach hurts,” said Yankees starter Gerrit Cole, describing how it felt after only going two innings, allowing two homers, two walks and three runs. It was Cole’s shortest start since 2016, long before the Yankees signed him for nine years and $ 324 million.

“We knocked out their ace,” said Xander Bogaerts of Boston, who hit a two-run homer in the middle of the field in the first inning. “He’s the best pitcher they have. It was to him that they gave all this money.

Spending is rarely an issue for the Yankees, who typically spend over $ 200 million on their annual payroll but can’t find their way back to the World Series. They’ve only succeeded once in the past 18 seasons – in 2009, when they won their last title. The Red Sox have captured four in that streak.

Boston now faces defending AL champions the Tampa Bay Rays in a best-of-five series. The Rays – thrifty and prosperous, as usual – stormed the AL East Division crown with 100 wins, eight more than the Yankees and Red Sox.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone, whose contract is expiring, challenged the players after Tuesday’s loss. He didn’t present it that way to reporters, but how else to interpret part of Boone’s message, that the league is now full of imposing rivals?

“The league closed the gap on us,” said Boone. “We have to improve. We need to improve in all aspects. It’s not just the Red Sox and Astros now in our league. Look at our division. The Rays are a beast, Toronto, and there are Center teams getting better and better, West teams getting better and better. Teams that have closed the gap on us, and that has to be front and center as the guys prepare for the offseason. “

Unsaid, but unequivocally, is that the Yankees are becoming exactly what they fear: ordinary.

They still have superstars to lead their brand, especially Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. But they’ve only scored 711 points this season – the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, Astros and World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers have all edged them over by more than 100.

The Yankees only have one starter, Cole, who can work reliably deep into games. Cole has a shot at winning the AL Cy Young Award, but he passed out in the home stretch and pitched so poorly on Tuesday that he accepted Boone’s decision to pick him up without an out in third.

“We have to win,” Cole said. “It’s the right decision. “

The score was only 3-0, but the game was almost out of reach. Nathan Eovaldi and four relievers handled the Yankees offense with ease, allowing two solo homers and nothing else. Stanton regretted his sixth inning shot on the Green Monster, which would have been an equalizer in the Bronx.

“Every game counts,” Stanton said. “All we needed was one more and we would have that at home. So yes, they will come back and bite you.

The Yankees had overcome a listless first half to take the lead in the wild card race with a end of september sweep at Fenway. But the Red Sox caught up with them in the past week, earning the right to host the game because they won the season series against the Yankees, 10-9.

And so Stanton’s high and deep training turned disastrous. The judge, who was the first to flee, was thrown to plate by Bogaerts. Joey Gallo made an appearance, and for the Yankees, the season dissolved in a flurry of bullpen walks and Alex Verdugo’s success.

The Red Sox acquired Verdugo from Los Angeles when they traded their main outfielder, Mookie Betts, to the Dodgers in early 2020. The deal was widely vilified in Boston, and the Red Sox fell flat during that time. shortened season.

Verdugo isn’t Betts, but he’s not bad, and the Red Sox appear to have survived the short-term pain of Betts leaving. The Yankees, meanwhile, are approaching a similar crossroads with Judge, who may be a free agent after the 2022 season and will cost a fortune to keep.

“I want to be a Yankee for life,” Judge said. “I want to wear the stripes for the rest of my career, represent this great organization and bring a championship back to the city. But you never know what the future holds.

The Yankees have been built around Judge since his arrival from the miners in August 2016. They had just done a roster reset, trading veterans for a prospect that included Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and others. But Frazier was injured, Sheffield was traded for late James Paxton, and Torres fell sharply, at home and on the pitch.

Several other hitters have also gone missing, such as Gary Sanchez, who has beaten .201 in the past four seasons and never forged a partnership with Cole. Injuries have sidelined or hampered infielders DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit. And Gallo – who is under team control for next season after a Texas trade in July – often seemed to be an automatic exit. He hit .160 as a Yankee, with 88 strikeouts in 188 batting appearances.

“It was, overall, a tough task for us to truly be the offensive juggernaut that we expected,” Boone conceded. “I don’t know why we didn’t realize our potential there.”

Now they have an extra month to think about it, as the first team to come out of the playoff stage. The Yankees will always have their story – 57 playoff appearances, 40 pennants, 27 titles, living legends like Bucky and Reggie and Goose, Derek and Bernie and Mo.

But lately every year ends the same, below the World Series, below the demanding standard that makes every fall less joyful.

“It’s black and white to me: either you win or you don’t win,” Judge said. “We didn’t win. It’s a fail.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The Yankees are not bad, they are ordinary
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