Yankees’ offensive faults in full display in the struggle against Reds

Aaron Judge turns to sky after a double play in the Yankees' 3-2 loss to Reds in the Bronx on July 3, 2024.
Charles Wenzelberg /NYP
Inna Zeyger
Thursday July 4, 2024

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The New York Yankees faced another disappointment, losing 3-2 to the Cincinnati Reds and extending their winless streak to six series. The defeat came despite a spirited rally that energized the sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium during Fireworks Night.

In the seventh inning, Anthony Volpe, battling a slump, hit a two-run double to cut the Reds’ lead. Juan Soto’s walk then placed runners at the corners, bringing Aaron Judge to the plate amid “M-V-P” chants from the fans. However, Judge grounded into an inning-ending double play on the first pitch from Reds reliever Fernando Cruz, quieting the crowd.

Before the game, Yankees manager Aaron Boone addressed speculation about teams potentially adopting a “Barry Bonds treatment” for Judge, given his recent exceptional performance. This strategy would involve intentionally walking or pitching around Judge in key situations, especially with Giancarlo Stanton out due to injury, weakening the cleanup spot.

The seventh inning provided such a scenario for the Reds. With runners on first and third and two outs, they could have walked Judge to face the less formidable J.D. Davis or a pinch hitter. Instead, they opted to pitch to Judge, a choice that paid off when he grounded into the double play.

This decision underscored the potential effectiveness of directly challenging Judge, even in high-pressure moments. The Yankees failed to score in the final two innings, culminating in a disappointing loss that further compounds their recent struggles.

Yankees’ offense turns anemic

New York Yankees’ Anthony Volpe follows through on a two-run double during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Wednesday, July 3, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The defeat, witnessed by a crowd of 47,646, highlights the Yankees’ ongoing offensive challenges and raises questions about how future opponents might strategize against Judge in critical situations.

The New York Yankees’ woes persisted as they dropped to the Reds, marking their fifth series loss in six attempts. This latest defeat has seen their record slip from 27 games above .500 to just 20.

Aaron Judge‘s seventh-inning double play was a pivotal moment, but not the sole reason for the loss. Starting pitcher Carlos Rodon took the defeat, surrendering three earned runs while striking out eight. Despite showing promise with improved use of his secondary pitches, Rodon remained susceptible to home runs.

In the second inning, Noelvi Marte capitalized on a misplaced fastball from Rodón, hitting a two-run homer. Stuart Fairchild followed with a solo shot in the fifth off a hanging slider.

Rodon acknowledged his disappointment, noting that key pitches led to runs and ultimately hindered the Yankees’ chances of winning.

New York Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodón reacts as Cincinnati Reds’ Noelvi Marte runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the second inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, July 3, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The Yankees’ offense sparked in the seventh inning. Jahmai Jones opened with a double, and pinch hitter Austin Wells followed with a walk. Anthony Volpe, breaking out of an 0-for-18 slump, hit a two-run double, narrowing the gap to one run.

Despite opportunities in the eighth and ninth innings, including runners in scoring position, the Yankees were unable to equalize. This inability to capitalize on late-game chances has been a recurring issue in their recent slump.

In the ninth inning, Austin Wells worked a 10-pitch walk, but Volpe grounded into a double play, and Juan Soto‘s pop-out with Aaron Judge on deck sealed the loss.

Boone defended his choice not to have Volpe bunt, emphasizing Volpe’s low tendency for double plays. Volpe remained confident, expressing trust in his approach, his teammates, and the coaching staff.

The Yankees’ star-studded but top-heavy lineup allowed little room for mistakes, turning flawed performances into losses. Their predominantly right-handed lineup managed only five hits against Reds’ left-hander Andrew Abbott and four relievers. Abbott limited the Yankees to just two hits through six innings, with Soto and Alex Verdugo being the only ones to connect successfully.

Soto acknowledged the team’s struggle to deliver in clutch moments, citing multiple missed opportunities. He pointed out Trent Grisham’s strikeout with runners on in the eighth, Judge’s double-play grounder in the seventh, and J.D. Davis’s broken-bat groundout that stranded two runners in the third.

“I think we struggled a little bit … to get the clutch hit,” said Soto. “It happens. It’s baseball. We hit the ball hard, couldn’t find the gap.”

Despite hitting the ball hard, the Yankees couldn’t find gaps in the Reds’ defense. This defeat underscores the team’s ongoing offensive inconsistencies and their difficulty in converting baserunners into runs, issues that continue to hinder their recent performances.

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