Brian Cashman called a sit-down Tuesday with his struggling club and told the players he believed in them, but the clock was ticking loudly on a season that is headed toward one of the most disappointing in the storied franchise’s history.
Then the Yankees showed their GM what it sounds like when bats die in a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. It was the team’s fifth straight loss, its 15th defeat in the past 20 games, and it dropped the Yankees to .500 for the first time in September since 1995.
“Just remind them, first and foremost, that I believe in them. I put the club together with my staff, and everyone is here for a reason,’’ Cashman said of his pregame message. “Making sure they know where they have to get back to. The bottom line is, we are on our own, there is no help coming, and the challenge is to find a way to get through this storm.’’
After the Yankees stranded 10 runners and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position Tuesday, Luke Voit was blunt in assessing the free-falling club. He admitted opposing teams no longer fear the Yankees, implored teammates to eliminate mental errors, wondered about others losing confidence and said catching the first-place Rays in the AL East isn’t happening.
“We have to get back to what the New York Yankees are. I feel like teams aren’t really scared of us right no,w and it is kind of a sad thing because we are the New York Yankees and obviously the favorite to win the division this year, and that’s obviously gone away so we have to step it up,’’ said Voit, who went 1-for-5 and scored the lone run.
Asked what he thought of Cashman’s message, Voit mentioned the GM having confidence in his underperforming players, then admitted confidence has escaped the thought process of some teammates.
“I feel a lot of guys have lost their confidence at the plate or on the mound, making mental errors when we need big plays,’’ Voit said. “You have to remember who you are. There are a lot great players in this locker room struggling right now, but a couple of weeks ago they were doing fantastic.’’
A 16-6 start has led to 21-21 and being three games behind the Blue Jays for second place in the AL East with 18 tilts remaining. In this COVID-impacted season, the second-place team in each division automatically qualifies for the expanded postseason. They are tied with the Astros for seventh place in the AL but only one-half game ahead of the Orioles. Two wild-card teams will fill out the final two spots.
Aaron Boone, whose team wasted seven runs Monday night and has been held to one run in three of the past four games, noted J.A. Happ’s strong performance but …
“We understand where we are at, and close isn’t good enough right now. We need to find a way to get it done,’’ Boone said. “We did a lot of good things tonight, but right now close isn’t good enough. We have to be able to find a way to punch through. We got to start that [Wednesday].’’
Under the heading of good things was Happ — who made one mistake in 6 ¹/₃ innings, and that resulted in a Jonathan Davis two-run homer in the second, enough to get him beat.
However, the Yankees inability to hit with runners in scoring position continued to play a big part in their free fall through the AL East standings.
It would be foolish to believe a healthy Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and James Paxton wouldn’t make a difference. Cashman didn’t include that trio when he said help wasn’t on the way, because he expects them back at some point.
But Voit’s belief that teams don’t fear the Yankees isn’t hollow because nobody reads players like other players.