Yankees wrestle with renewed hope only to lose the momentum

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Under Aaron Boone’s leadership, the Yankees experienced another loss, succumbing to a 6-5 defeat against the Nationals. The game’s turning point was a seventh-inning collapse, ultimately leading to the Yankees’ downfall. It clearly showed the Yankees were unable to hold the momentum at the penultimate moment of hope and invited despair with their defensive and base-path errors.

Following the end of their lengthiest losing streak in four decades, the Yankees found themselves entangled in another, less conspicuous but equally disheartening slump. The revitalizing breath that Wednesday’s triumph brought, breaking a nine-game losing streak — their lengthiest since 1982 — turned out to be short-lived.

The Yankees are their biggest enemies

Each time a glimmer of optimism emerged, such as Aaron Judge‘s fourth home run in two consecutive games, a powerful first-inning hit, or Gleyber Torres‘ two-run homer in the third inning, or even the late-game pushes to regain the lead, it was inevitably accompanied by feelings of frustration.

Amid a season marked by intermittent struggles in the rotation and persistent batting challenges, this occasion saw Tommy Kahnle emerge as the most significant concern.

Stepping onto the mound during the seventh inning of a game where the Yankees held a 3-1 lead, Kahnle found himself relinquishing that advantage. His struggles were evident as he allowed three hits — comprising an RBI single by Jake Alu and consecutive home runs from Alex Call and CJ Abrams. This downturn plunged the Yankees into a familiar hole. Surprisingly, all three hits were a result of changeups, which happened to be Kahnle’s most reliable pitch, yet he suspected that Washington had been anticipating it.

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Twitter-@BronxBmbrz

The Yankees made an effort to claw back, with Giancarlo Stanton’s eighth-inning homer narrowing the gap to one run. However, the Nationals widened the margin once more, capitalizing on vulnerabilities in Clay Holmes’ performance during the ninth inning, including an RBI single from Joey Meneses that emerged from a softly-hit grounder.

In the final moments of the ninth inning, a sequence of three singles (courtesy of Peraza, Torres, and Stanton) brought the Yankees within striking distance of tying the game. Yet, with two outs remaining, Harrison Bader concluded his challenging day, marked by four strikeouts, with a deep fly out to center field.

Michael King, who is in the process of proving himself for a spot in the rotation, conceded a single hit, issued two walks, and let in a run that wasn’t entirely deserved. In a situation with Jake Alu positioned on third base and two outs during the third inning, King prompted a ground ball from Meneses. Unfortunately, Anthony Volpe‘s mishandling of the ball resulted in a mistake that allowed the run, which should have only tied the game, to score.

The team’s defensive aspect also saw errors, and there were additional blunders on the base paths that were the result of lapses in judgment.

In the second inning, the Yankees squandered a scoring opportunity due to their own missteps. Kyle Higashioka’s attempt to progress from second to third on a ground ball hit to the shortstop, Abrams, resulted in him being tagged out. Subsequently, Peraza was caught off guard and picked off while stationed at first base.

These are precisely the kinds of errors that can severely impact teams lacking the offensive might to offset such blunders. DJ LeMahieu remarked that there are “numerous factors” at play, hindering the Yankees from capitalizing on any momentum.

The Yankees’ frustration was clearly visible

Michael King remarked that there had been a recurring sense of frustration throughout the year. He mentioned his role in pitching 2 ²/₃ innings as a starter in progress, during which he permitted a single unearned run. King expressed that the team exhibited intermittent moments of strong performance, such as the recent game on Wednesday, and even in the present game, he observed commendable at-bats and positive aspects. However, he acknowledged that despite these positive elements, the team’s overall performance didn’t fully synchronize.

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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

The statement suggested that a clear indication of going through a challenging phase was the pattern where, when the pitchers performed strongly, the hitters struggled, and conversely, when the hitters excelled, the pitchers faced difficulties.

Boone expressed his frustration with the inability to successfully conclude the game, particularly when holding a lead and being aware of the impending presence of the formidable bullpen’s relief pitchers. He highlighted that this group of relievers had been a prominent asset for the team throughout the year. Despite the frustration, he emphasized the need to shift focus and look ahead to the challenging upcoming trip starting on Friday.

The Yankees‘ last series victory occurred when they won three games against the Royals between July 21 and 23. Following that successful series, the Yankees found themselves just two games away from the final AL wild card spot. A little over a month, though the span has felt incredibly protracted, has passed since, and the Yankees (61-66) now find themselves trailing the postseason standings by a considerable margin of 10 games.

Since their triumphant sweep against Kansas City, the Yankees have been unable to clinch a series win, compiling a record of 0-7-2. As a result, they have made the decision to shift focus, opting to feature emerging prospects, Everson Pereira and Oswald Peraza, during their upcoming 10-game journey through Tampa, Detroit, and Houston. This strategic move reflects a sense of surrender to their current situation.

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