A very expensive pinstriped bobsled on the way to baseball hell without a brakeman is the best way to describe the Yankees.
Looking to escape the dark wilderness they have been wandering in for too long, the Yankees plunged a lot further into the abyss Monday night when stud relievers Chad Green and Adam Ottavino flushed a four-run lead in the sixth inning which led to an embarrassing 12-7 loss to the Blue Jays at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field.
With general manager Brian Cashman making a rare road trip to eyeball his sinking ship, the Yankees’ miseries continued even on a night when the lineup emerged from a late-summer nap.
Asked to protect a 6-2 lead after Jordan Montgomery failed to provide length for a second straight start, Green and Ottavino combined to give up a staggering 10 runs in the sixth inning in the latest low moment of a season that has gone completely off the rails for the Yankees who are in danger of completely missing the extended postseason.
The fourth straight loss was also the Yankees’ 14th in their past 19 games, continuing their descent from the top of the AL East to third place with no sign that they can halt the free fall.
“We need to get past it. We need to play better obviously,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “We did some good things at the plate where we had been struggling a little bit and hopefully we can build on that. Any time we get a lead in the middle innings we will take our chances at the back end. We got to do better, but have to have the ability to move forward.’’
After scoring one run Sunday when they dropped a third straight to the Orioles, it appeared the Yankees had hit rock bottom and had nowhere to go but up.
Instead in the first of 10 games against the Blue Jays, who lead the Yankees by two lengths in the race for second in the AL East, the Yankees continued to falter.
Most alarming was Green and Ottavino torching a game in which Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks hit back-to-back homers off Hyun Jin Ryu in the opening inning, Miguel Andujar homered in the fourth and Clint Frazier delivered a two-run double in the fifth that hiked the lead to 6-2.
Then the sixth rolled around and the beginning of the end surfaced.
Green walked two of the first three batters he faced, gave up a hit and watched Voit botch a ground ball. Enter Ottavino, whose No. 0 on the back of his jersey represented the number of outs he got against six Blue Jays. Most alarming was the grand slam he surrendered to No. 9 hitter Danny Jansen, a .155 hitter.
Green was lost to explain the wildness.
“The leadoff walk came back to kill us,’’ he said. “That situation with what our offense just did that can’t happen.’’
Catcher Kyle Higashioka said the minor league stadium’s lights provided a challenge for some of the Yankees’ pitchers to see the signs at times. Montgomery said it was noticeable; Green didn’t.
As for Ottavino, he was more occupied by the Blue Jays not swinging and missing at any of the 29 pitches he threw.
“Myself and Greenie didn’t get any swings and misses. We are both well above average swing-and-miss pitchers,’’ said Ottavino, who blew a save and was the losing pitcher. “Not getting swings and misses is an indication my stuff wasn’t good, my location wasn’t good, that they had something on me, had a great approach or knew what was coming.’’
As for Cashman’s visit, Boone explained it this way.
“I think he is here just to be with the team and keep his eyes on what is going on and obviously support us as we go through a tough time,” the manager said.