Aaron Boone finds ‘encouraging’ signs despite Yankees’ calamitous home series

Harrison Bader and Anthony Volpe of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 4, 2023.

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In the series finale against the Astros on Sunday, the Yankees showed resilience by mounting a comeback after falling behind by four runs. However, their efforts fell short, and they had to settle for a split with a 9-7 loss at home in The Bronx.

Despite the loss, Yankees manager Aaron Boone found encouragement in his players’ performances at the plate, even though they couldn’t deliver the crucial hit with runners in scoring position. He praised his team’s approach at the plate, stating that he thought the at-bats were good throughout the game. Boone mentioned that their strike zone control was effective in getting them back into the game. However, the Yankees manager also acknowledged that the walks hurt both teams, setting them up for certain innings.

“Very encouraging, encouraging week for our offense I think,” Boone said. “We’re not all the way where we want to be, but I definitely feel like the at-bat qualities we talked about, the heaviness. … I think they went through a heavy lineup today. They had to work. They had to earn everything.”

The Yankees manager is optimistic

Boone commented that going three-for-12 with runners in scoring position is typical in baseball. He mentioned that they scored seven runs and tried to make it stand up, but they were just one big swing away from potentially reaching double-digit runs. Boone expressed that they have been focused on improving their at-bats lately, and he was pleased with their continued progress in that aspect during the game.

The Astros issued a remarkable 12 walks to Yankees batters, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa received the most free passes with three. The Yankees had the bases loaded on two occasions during the game, once in the fourth inning and again in the eighth.

In the fourth inning, the Yankees scored four runs, tying the game at 5-5. However, in a similar situation later on, they could only add one run, leaving it as a two-run game.

“I thought the at-bats were good all day long,” Boone said. “The strike zone control really got us back in that game. The walks hurt them, but kind of the walks hurt us, too. Setting them up for some innings…..We talked about getting better and better at-bats here of late, and I thought we continued that today.”

Harrison Bader also agreed with the assessment by the Yankees manager. He felt the complete opposite when asked if the team had lost an opportunity. He stated that, for the first time in a really long time, it was a really good game and a really good battle. The center fielder mentioned that there wasn’t a single moment, regardless of the situation on the other side, where they felt they were out of it.

Harrison Bader commented that they had done a great job battling back, which he believed provided a big momentum boost for them moving forward. He remarked that it was a really good game and a great battle, which was a rarity for him lately. Bader emphasized that they gave their best effort throughout the nine innings and evaluated if they put themselves in a position to win the game with every swing and situation.

Is Sean Casey’s appointment helping the Yankees?

Harrison Bader mentioned that the way the game unfolded, they did an excellent job of battling back, which provided a significant momentum boost for them moving forward.

After Brian Cashman decided to replace former hitting coach Dillon Lawson, the Yankees’ general manager emphasized that the team had been placing excessive pressure on pitching due to numerous low-scoring games. Under the guidance of new hitting coach Sean Casey, the team’s focus shifted to competitive at-bats and prioritizing getting on base.

Yankees' manager Aaron Boone with Aaron Judge during an MLB game.
Corey Sipkin / NY POST

Boone attributed the Yankees’ recent improvement at the plate to the return of key players, such as Aaron Judge, to the lineup. The manager told that he had found the week to be very encouraging for their offense. He mentioned that while they haven’t reached their desired level yet, he observed improved at-bat qualities, like heaviness, and saw the hitters working hard and earning their way through a tough lineup during the game.

As the season progresses, the Yankees have reached a point where achieving favorable outcomes takes precedence over the process they follow.

Hence, finding reasons for optimism in the Yankees’ 9-7 loss to the Astros on Sunday, which concluded a 3-4 homestand where they lost ground in the wild-card race, proved to be a challenging task despite the team’s efforts to find positives.

Making progress but missing chances and facing setbacks

The Yankees settled for a split in the four-game series against Houston, missing a chance to secure their first series win against an above-.500 team since June 23-25 when they took two of three games from Texas. In the last ten series overall, the Yankees have only managed to win one, losing six and splitting three.

The Yankees are a prime example of inconsistency. Despite the chaotic game and numerous pitches thrown by the Houston staff, the Yankees found a reason to cheer as they displayed commendable at-bats. In the midst of it all, home plate umpire Angel Hernandez called only 117 strikes out of the 215 pitches. Despite his error-prone umpiring, the Yankees managed to score runs via bases-loaded walks and a hit batsman.

Despite Carlos Rodon and Wandy Peralta being victimized by home runs, the Yankees’ inability to deliver a crucial hit proved to be their downfall. This loss caused them to fall 4 ½ games behind Toronto in the wild-card race, positioning them 4 ½ games out of sixth place in the AL.

Yankees starter Carlos Rodon and bullpen pitcher Wandy Peralta during the game vs, the Astros on August 06, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees put up a fight, showing determination and effort, but their star players like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton struggled on this particular afternoon. Judge had a tough outing, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and Stanton also went 0-for-6, narrowly missing a potential game-winning hit. Despite having multiple opportunities, the team left 15 men on base and struggled with runners in scoring position, going 3-for-12 in those situations.

The Yankees managed to stage a comeback from a 5-1 deficit after three innings, knotting the game with four runs in the fourth inning, with three of them driven in through bases-on-balls and a hit batsman. However, the Astros responded with another four runs in the sixth inning to take a 9-5 lead. Despite continuously putting runners on base, the Yankees couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities and had to settle for chipping away at the lead without fully closing the gap.

In May or June, perhaps the team could find comfort in this kind of performance, but with only 50 games left in the season? Now, after posting a 4-6 record since Judge’s return? It’s quite a stretch to find solace in these results.

The homestand proved to be quite disastrous for the Yankees. They lost Domingo German for the season as he was placed on the MLB restricted list following an alcohol-related incident in the clubhouse that occurred shortly after the trade deadline. Adding to their troubles, general manager Brian Cashman was unable to secure significant reinforcements for the team during the trade period.

The Yankees faced multiple challenges during the homestand. Luis Severino struggled once again, and Carlos Rodon also had a poor outing before leaving the game in the third inning due to a hamstring issue. Rodon allowed five runs on three hits and left the field to a displeased crowd, adding insult to injury. For the season, he carries a high 7.33 ERA and has given up eight home runs in just 27 innings.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Rodon expressed his disappointment with his performance, acknowledging that it was not the way he wanted to come out and play, particularly in a game where he felt the team needed a win. He admitted that his performance was not good.

Rodon is scheduled to have an MRI exam on Monday, and the team is already discussing whether Severino will be able to start on Wednesday against the White Sox. As for Rodon’s next start, there is uncertainty, which could be viewed as both good news and bad news. The Yankees’ bullpen has been stretched with several games requiring bullpen support, and Boone may have limited options left for managing the staff.

Before this game, the Yankees had won three out of their last four, but they hadn’t experienced a stretch of winning four out of five since June 29. Unfortunately, they missed the opportunity to create some momentum and still haven’t achieved that kind of winning streak.

In contrast, they accumulated numerous walks and consistently had players on base and in scoring position, but still ended up with a loss. Perhaps such a performance would have sufficed back in May or June.

In August, the Yankees need to be different.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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One thought on “Aaron Boone finds ‘encouraging’ signs despite Yankees’ calamitous home series

  1. Loone is delusional. He would find “encouraging signs” as the Titanic was sinking. He needs to go.

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