Boone finds ‘decent’ signs of optimism amid Yankees flunking offense

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The Yankees knew that losing Aaron Judge for a long time would hurt their offense. But over the last five games, including Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Red Sox, it has become clear how much they miss their strong hitter.

Despite facing a Boston team with a below-.500 record and Garrett Whitlock, who entered Friday’s series opener with a 5.61 ERA, the Yankees managed to score a mere two runs at Yankee Stadium.

Boone finds encouraging signs

While some might consider it a mere coincidence, the Yankees’ offensive struggles continued following their 4-1 triumph in the final game against the Dodgers. In the subsequent three games against the below-.500 White Sox, they managed to score a total of only 10 runs (1-2 record). Their lone victory came in the form of a 3-0 win, which didn’t exactly showcase an impressive scoring performance.

However, despite Friday’s defeat, Yankees manager Aaron Boone remains focused on the positives. Aaron Boone said after the game that he believed they had decent at-bats throughout the lineup. He mentioned that their hits were scattered and they struggled to string together a significant one until Josh Donaldson came through.

Aaron Boone expressed that despite scoring only two runs, he felt they had numerous quality at-bats throughout the lineup. He mentioned their inability to capitalize on a pivotal moment and secure the significant hit they needed.

“I actually thought we had decent at-bats up and down,” Boone told. “We just scattered our hits around and couldn’t string that big one together until got them.

Although the Yankees managed to accumulate nine hits, they were unable to deliver the timely hit that would have allowed them to score runs, as the skipper mentioned.

“For only scoring two runs, it felt like we had a lot of quality at-bats up and down, we just couldn’t get the big one,” Boone said.

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But the Yankees’ offense continues to struggle

When DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton were on the corners in the first inning, the Yankees had chances to score. Jake Bauers’ ground out, on the other hand, ended the game. Anthony Volpe was on second base in the seventh inning, which was another chance. However, LeMahieu got a force out to end the game.

In order to maintain their winning momentum, the Yankees, who have suffered three losses in the past five games without Aaron Judge, will have to rely on their prominent sluggers to step up and try to fill the void left by the reigning AL MVP.

Anthony Rizzo has been struggling since he missed the Seattle Mariners series because of a neck injury. In his last 24 at-bats, he has only gotten one hit, including a hitless 0-for-4 game on Friday. Giancarlo Stanton, who came off the injured list on June 2 and has only had three hits in his last 18 at-bats, including a 1-for-4 day on Friday, has also had some trouble.

The Yankees‘ insufficient offensive performance played a significant role in their ace Gerrit Cole experiencing his first loss of the season. Cole provided a quality start, allowing only two runs across six innings. Typically, such a performance would be sufficient for a victory, but the offense failed to deliver the decisive blow needed to secure the win.

Pitchers sometimes know that they might not get much run support, which can make them feel more pressure during their starts. But the experienced right-hander doesn’t think that was the case on Friday.

Cole expressed that he didn’t perceive any additional pressure, emphasizing that their team simply missed Judge. He described Judge as one of the greatest players in the world and acknowledged that any team would prefer to have him in their lineup.

Why Boone is optimistic

Despite the ongoing struggles, the Yankees manager remains hopeful that the team can overcome their current slump. DJ LeMahieu, who had been enduring a rough patch with a 3-for-26 performance, managed to break out of it with a solid 2-for-4 day on Friday. He played a better role in the Yankees’ offensive production against the Red Sox in the series opener.

Boone said that Rizzo is in good physical shape and that this slump is just a normal part of the ups and downs of a long baseball season. Even though Rizzo didn’t get a hit on Friday, Boone pointed out that he had two good swings in his last two at-bats, but both balls were caught by fielders.

Cole acknowledged the Yankees’ effort in the game, stating that they engaged in a competitive battle but unfortunately didn’t emerge victorious. Despite this, they remained optimistic, mentioning that they created opportunities for themselves and believed they would capitalize on them in the future. They recognized the need to navigate the duration of Aaron Judge’s absence and expressed the possibility of gaining valuable insights and making improvements from this challenge, as the game presents different obstacles when he’s not on the field.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone

Even though they had missed many chances, the Yankees had a chance to win the game in the ninth inning. With two outs, they were able to get two singles, which set the stage for Volpe to step up to the plate and either tie the game or win it.

Facing Kenley Jansen, a potential Hall-of-Fame closer, the rookie shortstop battled through a 3-2 count. He then unleashed a powerful swing on a cutter that found its way towards the left-field foul pole, only for it to narrowly hook foul.

Volpe expressed that he was fully present and engaged in the moment. He acknowledged the impressive at-bats that preceded his turn and emphasized his focus on the approach and strategizing on how to face Jansen, considering the latter’s exceptional skills as a pitcher.

When discussing his approach during the decisive at-bat, Volpe mentioned that his intention was to adopt an aggressive mindset within his strike zone. He acknowledged Jansen’s formidable repertoire and successful career, particularly with his cutter. Volpe anticipated receiving hittable pitches and aimed to maintain his composure while exhibiting assertiveness within his designated strike zone.

Following the lengthy foul ball, Volpe ultimately popped out, bringing the game to an end. It was a difficult loss for a team striving to regain stability in the absence of their captain. However, despite their recent challenges, the Yankees exhibit a sense of composure and belief that they will soon find their rhythm once again.

Yankees won’t rush Giancarlo Stanton

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Despite the numerous injuries plaguing the Yankees outfield, the organization remains committed to not rushing Giancarlo Stanton into playing in the field until he is fully prepared.

Before the series opener against the Boston Red Sox on Friday, manager Boone fielded a question regarding Aaron Judge’s recent placement on the injured list due to a toe sprain. When asked if this would prompt the team to expedite their plans of having Stanton play in the outfield, Boone responded that it would not.

Boone stated that it would not expedite the process, emphasizing that Stanton would gradually work his way into the outfield through pregame workouts. He mentioned the importance of building up his timing and assured that the team would stay committed to that approach.

In response to inquiries about a specific timeline for getting Stanton back to playing in the outfield, Boone disclosed that they currently have no set timeframe. He emphasized that they would adopt a wait-and-see approach, monitoring the situation closely before making any decisions.

The Yankees manager explained that even prior to Stanton’s return, he had been engaging in outfield work and similar activities. The intention is to continue incorporating those practices to ensure his preparedness. Boone acknowledged the challenge of balancing gameplay with outfield work but expressed the team’s commitment to prioritize Stanton’s involvement in such activities.

Boone noted that Stanton is adept at communicating when he believes playing in the outfield is feasible. While Boone expressed his desire to have Stanton available in that capacity, he also emphasized the importance of not rushing the process.

Stanton missed several weeks of team practice because of a leg injury he got on April 15. He just got back on the team last weekend, when they were playing a series in Los Angeles.

Since making his return, Stanton has recorded a 2-for-14 batting performance, including one home run. In the five starts he has made since his return, he has exclusively served as the designated hitter. However, both Boone and Stanton acknowledge the significance of him playing on the field.

Back in February, the Yankees’ most powerful hitter conveyed to reporters that playing in the outfield brings a higher level of engagement with the game. He compared the experience of being a designated hitter, where one is often indoors, staying warm, and primarily focused on hitting, to watching the game on television instead of being actively involved on the field.

Before succumbing to injury, Stanton had played five games in the outfield during the current season. However, in the injury-ridden 2022 season, he managed to participate in 38 games as an outfielder.

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