Yankees end August with worst record since 1991, focus on redemption


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ANAHEIM, Calif. – The New York Yankees signed off August with their worst form that saw them losing to the LA Angels, the lowest-ranked MLB team. However, their manager Aaron Broone has expressed confidence in his team’s capability to fight back.

It’s possible that when everything turned against the Yankees in August, they simply did not have the right perspective on the situation. The injury to Jameson Taillon exemplifies it the best. The pitcher was hit by a line drive on his pitching forearm and had to leave Tuesday’s game.

Taillon said, “It’s nice to finally catch a break – or not a break.” He was glad that there wasn’t any fracture and admired the Angel Stadium for having a “nice X-ray machine over there.”

The Canadian-American player was telling about his injury as well as the Yankees. After a frustrating August, the Yankees are set for a 10-game September that involves an 11-day trip to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees have one mission objective for September and October. Their offense is showing life and they need gits to save themselves.

In August, the Yankees rank second from the bottom in the AL and this is their lowest monthly ebb since September 1991. With a 10-18 record and 3.61 runs per game, they stand above the White Sox, the Angels, and the A’s as the fourth worst ever AL performer.

We’ve got to play better than we have lately, simple as that, Manager Aaron Boone said after two sixth-inning errors led to a three-run home run by Shohei Ohtani that doomed the Yankees, 3-2, and sent them to their fourth loss in five games. We have to start racking up some wins. Whether the calendar has an eight or a nine or a 10 on it, we’ve got to get a little better.

A calendar flip isn’t something this team can consider the nastiest against it. For contending teams, September 1 matters. This can sharpen focus and strengthen fundamentals.

I think maybe there’s something to that, Boone said during a conversation earlier Wednesday afternoon. The end of July, August, is the dog days, right? Now my kids are going back to school tomorrow, the calendar shifts, some of the hot weather starts to cool off a little bit and you know it’s the stretch drive now. Rosters expand a little bit.

It’s a mark on the calendar that means something.

The Yankees had a harrowing season in the first half that saw their form facing a massive slump. Now they are on their last trip to the West Coast before spring training. It looks like they have had an introspection and the team is thinking about the future.

Whenever you’re going for a playoff spot or a division, it’s always fun, said Anthony Rizzo, who has played in the postseason in six of the past seven seasons with the Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. In a big market, it’s fun. Enjoying September, enjoying the moments, enjoying the games.

Outfielder Andrew Benintendi, a part of three postseasons with Boston from 2016 to 2018, said: Obviously, the last month of the season a lot of things happen with the standings. It gets down to nitty-gritty time. It’s exciting. It’s usually when the best baseball, I feel like, happens. In September.

Until July 10, the Yankees won 73% of their games and registered a 61-23 record. Before their slump started, New York was the AL East leader by 15.5 games. It is time that they must convince themselves of better days ahead. In recent weeks, injuries have mounted. The offense is down. The Yankees lead the Rays by six games with 30 to play.

Some of that bad luck with injuries may soon change.

Giancarlo Stanton was activated last Thursday in Oakland, and Clay Holmes was activated Monday. Holmes threw two perfect sliders against the Angels.

Nestor Cortes got his first throwing chance from a mound since Aug. 21. The Yankees expect him to be ready for the roaster next week, but his workload will be managed through the playoffs. While the list of inured Yankee pitchers is long, their righty starter Luis Severino hasn’t pitched since mid-July and will rehab on Friday.

Rizzo hit his 30th home run of the season Tuesday but was out of the lineup Wednesday with back soreness. Boone said Rizzo might miss a few more starts.

August, to me, was just kind of — that’s baseball, Josh Donaldson said Wednesday afternoon before things unraveled for the Yankees again that night. It happens. I feel like we were able to hold serve to where if we get some of these guys back and healthy, and we still have some guys who are going to come back and hopefully round into form. Being full strength is important.

Aaron Judge is under the weight of too much expectation to lead the offensive load, so the Yankees are trying to ignite the bats of Donaldson, Gleyber Torres, and Aaron Hicks.

Honestly, the last month, I haven’t felt terrible, Donaldson said. It felt like I’ve run into not really being able to catch momentum. I’ll have a good game here and the next game punch out once or twice and hit two balls hard that are outs. I can’t gather a head of steam. Really, the last week or two has felt good.

Donaldson’s postseason experience with Oakland, Toronto, Cleveland, and Atlanta attracted the Yankees (2019). Donaldson sees glimmers of hope despite the Yankees’ struggles.

I feel like we’ve been able to put ourselves in situations where we’re trying to scratch together some runs, just like you would in the postseason, and we’ve been able to maneuver through it a little bit, he said. When push comes to shove in the postseason, we’re going to be able to do a lot of different things to score runs.

The Yankees have Judge, Stanton, Rizzo, and others in their rank and this leads fans to expect that the team to outperform others with their hitting prowess, not bunts like D.J. LeMahieu’s in Monday’s loss. Versatility pays off.

Donaldson said the Blue Jays’ inability to manufacture runs cost them wins, which he blamed on a lack of preparation.

We failed in those opportunities, which kind of wound up costing us in the long haul being able to get to the World Series, he said. I don’t want to put it on any particular play, I’m not saying that, but maybe had we done it little more in the regular season, or had that capability or foundation to do that, maybe I’d be a World Series champion.

Unfulfilled opportunities can haunt a player for years. The Yankees dominated the first three months but failed to carry it in July and August. They must avoid these meltdown moments down the stretch.

Boone continues to exude “total confidence” on the Yankees’ offense getting back its mojo. With a new beginning, the Yankees are looking for a positive start at Tampa.

We’ve got to find a way to punch through, he said, adding, It’s right there in front of us.

Can the Yankees overturn their form and return to the winning ways in the next two months of the season? Let us know.

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