The New York Yankees lost badly to the Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon, losing 9-2. That put a cap on the series, as the Bronx Bombers went 2-2 against the division leaders. It was a weird series; at some points, the Yankees seemed to be returning to form, while at other times they looked lost. While many Yankees seem to be finding the pop in their bats again, the struggle to score with RISP prevailed.
Bottom-of-the-lineup Yankees Fuel Offense
Just when people were calling for Estevan Florial and Joey Gallo, the outfielders found their motivation. Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar have been struggling the whole year. Both have been trying to return to form: Miggy to his rookie season and Clint to last year. Finally, in this series, they both seem to be turning a corner. Despite going up against a strong Rays rotation and deep bullpen, the two young OFs were able to rack up RBIs this weekend. That includes Frazier’s clutch walk-off HR in extras on Tuesday. Even Brett Gardner was able to knock his first homer of the year today off of Ryan Yarbrough. Hopefully, the Yankees can build off of this success in their next series.
On the flip side, DJ LeMahieu is having a rough year, and no one is more frustrated than him. Even though he received a hefty 6yr/$90mil contract this offseason, it is obvious to fans DJ has higher goals than large sums of money. In the past two seasons with the Yankees DJ put up monstrous numbers. He was an All-Star in 2019 and ranked 4th then 3rd in AL MVP voting, so clearly he was as dangerous as anyone. For some reason, DJ lost his pop, and his anger was on display in Thursday’s game. Though not obvious, to me it seems the issue with him is actually not on him as much as it is on the MLB.
It is pretty obvious that the league has a foreign substance problem. DJ, being a contact hitter, is a major victim, as pitchers can now get an extra 500 rpm, turning a line drive into a grounder. Hopefully, he will find a way to adjust soon.
Yankees Rotation Fails to Match Rays
Though the Yankees starters were better than they were last weekend, they were unable to compete with the Rays. Jameson Taillon was bested by Rich Hill, Domingo German was not as good as ace Tyler Glasnow, and Gerrit Cole had a fluke poor performance against Yarbrough. Thankfully, Jordan Montgomery continued his dominance and the Rays bullpen blew the second game, or the series would have been much uglier. The Yankees bullpen, while not on the same level of previous seasons, is doing well enough, especially considering injuries. It would be easy to attribute some losses to them, but the lack of offensive production across the board is clearly more to blame.
In the end, the Yankees survived a series with one of the hottest teams in baseball. That’s a W in my books. The Yankees will have many more games against the Rays, hopefully when they aren’t as hot as now. Next up are the Red Sox, who just narrowly avoided a sweep by the Astros. Being the first game of the rivalry this season, maybe this is what the Yankees have been missing? We can all hope.