Sluggish Yankees lose power in key junctures, let Braves prevail 3-1

Yankees' Alex Verdugo reacts after missing a ball against Atlanta Braves, on June 23, 2024, at Yankee Stadium.

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The New York Yankees endured their seventh loss in ten games, succumbing 3-1 to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday afternoon. A sellout crowd of 46,683 at Yankee Stadium watched as Max Fried and the Braves’ pitching staff effectively silenced the Bombers’ bats.

The Yankees, already hampered by Giancarlo Stanton’s recent placement on the 10-day Injured List, struggled to mount any significant offensive threats. They only managed to get multiple runners on base in one inning, but a critical baserunning mistake quashed their rally.

Despite this setback, the Yankees still hold a narrow 1.5-game lead in their division over the Baltimore Orioles, who were swept by the Houston Astros over the weekend.

Slumberous Yankees falter in crucial moments

The Yankees’ best chance to score came in the sixth inning when they finally broke through against Fried. However, Anthony Volpe‘s baserunning miscue proved costly. After driving in a run with an RBI double, Volpe was thrown out attempting to advance to third on Juan Soto‘s grounder to shortstop Orlando Arcia.

Atlanta Braves’ Orlando Arcia scores on a single hit by Ozzie Albies during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Sunday, June 23, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Pamela Smith

The misstep was even more glaring when Aaron Judge singled immediately after. Volpe might have scored had he remained on base. Instead, with runners on first and second, Alex Verdugo grounded into an inning-ending double play, extinguishing the Yankees’ most promising scoring opportunity of the game.

This defeat highlights the Yankees’ recent offensive woes and underscores the challenges they face in maintaining their division lead.

The New York Yankees faced a tough opponent in Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried, who entered Sunday’s game with a stellar 2.16 ERA over his last 12 appearances. New York manager Aaron Boone highlighted Fried’s Cy Young-caliber performance in recent months.

Fried lived up to expectations, limiting the Yankees to just three hits early on. Concurrently, Yankees starter Nestor Cortes struggled to contain the Braves’ offense.

Leading the majors in walks, the Yankees have relied on the patience of Juan Soto (63 walks) and Aaron Judge (58 walks). Soto explained that while he doesn’t aim for walks, his disciplined approach often leads to free passes.

“I’m really not trying to (walk that often),” the star slugger said. “But my game is to be patient. I’ll take as many walks as (opponents) want to give me.”

The Yankees have hit a rough patch, losing four of their last five series. Injuries have thinned their roster, weakening their bench. With the Subway Series against the New York Mets looming, the pressure is mounting.

Yankees' Nestor Cortes in action vs. Atlanta Braves, on June 23

Cortes, who pitched seven innings and allowed three runs, remained optimistic about the team’s resilience. He described their current slump as a typical rough stretch in the long 162-game season, emphasizing the importance of pushing through.

“Nobody’s holding their heads, nobody’s panicking in here,” he said. “Just a rough patch that, 162 games, you’re going to go through. Just gotta figure out a way to get out of it.”

The Yankees’ recent struggles mark a stark contrast to their early success. After winning 19 of their first 22 series, they have now dropped three consecutive series and four of their last five. Despite a 52-28 record, third-best in the majors, they have lost seven of their last ten games.

This downturn underscores the challenges the Yankees face as they deal with injuries and inconsistent performances, striving to maintain their standing among the league’s elite teams.

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