Yankees’ offensive woes, defensive mishaps in Loss to Rays: 5 Takeaways

Jake Bauers at the game that resulted in the Yankees loosing 8-2 loss to the Rays, on May 11, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

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Silence filled the air as Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, and Harrison Bader settled into their leather chairs, conversing in hushed tones. Meanwhile, Josh Donaldson and Anthony Volpe appeared to be deeply engrossed in a discussion about perfecting their swings. In the background, other players could be seen shuffling in and out of the showers, wrapped in towels.

The Yankees’ clubhouse was eerily quiet, akin to a doctor’s waiting room. It was not unexpected as the Yankees lost 8-2 to the Rays, who are their most potent divisional challengers, at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night.

The defeat a lesson for the Yankees

The defeat was disheartening, despite a solid outing from starting pitcher Domingo Germán who allowed just one earned run over 5 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, the bullpen didn’t hold up, giving up six earned runs. The offense struggled too, with just four hits, two of which came from Jake Bauers. Tampa Bay starting pitcher Drew Rasmussen pitched a seven-inning gem for the Rays, striking out seven with no walks or runs.

“Of course,” catcher Jose Trevino said, “we want to win. We want to win all the time. But I don’t know any teams that went 162-0. So, you just kind of roll with them, and for us, it’s how we’re going to bounce back.”

This loss followed a strong showing against the Rays in their previous series at Tropicana Field, where they lost two of three games by a single run each. The Yankees then swept the MLB’s worst team, the A’s, in three games.

Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged the importance of their upcoming game, with ace pitcher Gerrit Cole set to start, saying, “We’ve got to go get it.”

Despite their recent successes, the last-place Yankees now sit nine games behind the AL East-leading Rays. Aaron Judge expressed that it was challenging, particularly when facing a top team, and the aim was to gain some ground and secure a few wins at home. He was eager to move on to the next game.

“It’s tough,” Judge said. “Especially with this team sitting at the top, you want to try to gain some ground on them and try to get a couple of wins here. Keep it close. But we’ve got four games here at home and looking forward to getting that next one out.”

Trevino remarked that they play a total of 162 games, so they must keep going and remain persistent despite the challenge. They would be playing another game the following day and would be right back at it.

The Yankees’ mistakes allowed the Rays a walkover

The Rays took advantage of the Yankees’ mistakes on Thursday, demonstrating the traits of a good team. In the fifth inning, Anthony Rizzo’s inexplicable error on a weakly hit groundball allowed Yandy Díaz to hit an RBI double, scoring Tampa Bay’s first run. Later, in the sixth, when Domingo Germán walked Taylor Walls with two outs, Ron Marinaccio replaced him as a reliever. Although Marinaccio was ahead 0-2 in the count, he allowed a single to Luke Raley and hit Manuel Margot with a fastball. Josh Lowe then hit a three-run double, giving the Rays a 4-0 lead and effectively silencing Yankee Stadium for the rest of the night.

Unfortunately, the Yankees continued their trend of struggling against right-handed starters with high velocity. Drew Rasmussen shut them down yet again, making it 21 scoreless innings against the Yankees in his career. This streak is the third-longest start-of-career scoreless streak by a pitcher versus the Yankees, with only John Morris’ 22 1/3 innings and Troy Percival’s 21 1/3 innings being longer, as per Elias Sports Bureau.

Before the season, the Yankees’ attention was solely on closing the gap with the Astros. However, the Rays have shown that the Yankees may also need to narrow the gap with their AL East rival.

The Yankees offense turned quiet

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

On Wednesday, the Yankees’ offense struggled in games where they don’t face a team like the A’s, who are considered to be of a lower caliber. After Thursday’s game, the Yankees have failed to score more than four runs in 15 of their last 17 games against non-Oakland opponents. Additionally, the team has only won one out of 13 games when scoring two or fewer runs. As a result, their offense has been severely lacking in 36 percent of their games this season.

Until the start of the ninth inning, the only Yankee to reach base was Bauers. Then, Willie Calhoun doubled to begin a small rally when the Rays employed their least reliever, Javy Guerra. Both Calhoun and Bauers began the season in Triple-A and were not expected to play significant roles in important divisional games so early in the year. If these players are relied upon as the team’s main source of offense, the Yankees will likely struggle to win many games this season.

The Yankees are banking on Giancarlo Stanton to make a difference upon his return. However, Stanton did not perform as well after coming back from a lower-body soft tissue injury last season. In the end, the team will need to figure out a way to win with the players who are currently healthy and available to play.

Pressing Gerrit Cole too much

The Yankees will need Cole to bounce back on Friday after his disappointing performance in Florida. Despite his team giving him a 6-0 lead going into the fifth inning against the Rays in Tampa, Cole gave it all up and the Yankees lost 8-7. However, this was his first downturn of an otherwise stellar start to the season. In eight starts, the 32-year-old is 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA. The Yankees won in the first seven of his starts.

With Luis Severino still at least two weeks away from returning from the injured list and Carlos Rodon likely to be out for more than a month, the team can’t afford to lose with Cole on the mound.

Yankees hitting coach is unperturbed

The Yankees have been struggling to produce runs at the plate throughout the season, except for a recent three-game series against the Oakland Athletics, where they scored a whopping 28 runs and swept their opponents. However, even after accounting for their statistics against the A’s, the Yankees’ offensive performance has been rather dismal.

They currently rank 23rd in batting average, 22nd in on-base percentage, 15th in slugging, and 16th in OPS. According to The Athletics, the Yankees have only managed to score three or fewer runs in 45% of their games this season, and their record is 4-13 in those games where their offense has struggled.

Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson believes that hitting requires a great deal of mental strength and positivity. He likes to think of himself as the most optimistic coach on the staff, as players who lack confidence in themselves or the game plan when stepping up to bat are unlikely to succeed, especially given the already low probability of success in hitting. While he doesn’t ignore the struggles of his players, he strives to maintain a positive attitude to help his players maintain their confidence.

The Athletics cited him telling:

“Hitting is really hard. If I don’t believe in them, maybe I cause them to question their own belief in themselves. That now starts a downward spiral. I’m not ignoring things that aren’t going well, though.”

Apart from a dominant three-game series against the Oakland Athletics where they scored 28 runs, the Yankees’ offense has struggled to find success this season. It’s difficult to fully evaluate their offensive performance against the A’s because, with respect, Oakland is currently one of the weakest teams in the league. Shockingly, five A’s pitchers who have played in at least six games this season have earned run averages (ERAs) over 10, which is truly astonishing for all the wrong reasons.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

One thought on “Yankees’ offensive woes, defensive mishaps in Loss to Rays: 5 Takeaways

  1. Hitting coach needs to get Team to recognize strikes and put a swing on them. Team must lead the League in called strikes! What happened to the mantra of Hitting Strikes HARD?

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