Friday, April 22, 2022

Yankees Hitters "Need to be disciplined to the process," Says Boone

Yankees 1B Anthony Rizzo at bat in the first inning on a beautiful Friday night at Yankee Stadium, in front of 41,062 fans. Photo by Jason Schott. 


The Yankees enter every season with a star-studded lineup of sluggers that lives up to their moniker, the Bronx Bombers. With Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Anthony Rizzo, this season was no exception.

What's been different this season is that, in the first two weeks, the Yankees have battled to a 7-6 record based on the strength of their pitching staff, which produced the usual questions in the offseason  about their rotation, specifically what the starters after  Gerrit Cole in the rotation can deliver. That's been turned on its head, as Cole has been the least consistent of the Yankees five starters, but that's a discussion for another day and another cup of coffee, as Niles Crane would say.

The issue for the Yankees as they entered Friday night's opener of a three-game set with Cleveland, newly christened as the Guardians, is their offense.

The Yankees went 3-3 on their road trip, dropping two of three in Baltimore, and rebounding by taking two of three in Detroit. What was notable was that two of those losses were shutouts, 5-0 to Baltimore on Sunday, and 3-0 on Thursday in Detroit.

In the first 13 games of the season (through Thursday), the Yankees' offense has produced just 39 runs, exactly three per game. Of the Yankees's everyday lineup, they only have one .300 hitter, which D.J. LeMahieu's average was exactly through Thursday's action, as he had 12 hits in 40 at-bats.  Just three other hitters are above .250 (Isiah Kiner-Falefa at .282, Aaron Hicks at .270, and Aaron Judge at .255).

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone was asked in his pregame press conference on Friday afternoon about how he can bolster their offense, and he said, "I think the biggest thing is, you know, stay consistent.

"That's the message with these guys, is, you know, such is the nature every early in the season, especially when you're not getting the results that you want, you're not off to the hot start, or whatever, so you've really just got to be disciplined to the process, to get prepared for the game, and then, you know, hitting's hard.

"I would argue it's as hard as anytime in the last number of years. I mean, it's tough, but you know, sometimes, especially early in the season when you're fighting for those results, and you get in those big situations, sometimes you can want that result a little too bad, and it causes you to expand a little bit, or to want to get this hit really bad, and that can be a dangerous position to be in when you're in a hitter and you start playing into the other teams' hands.

"What I hope to be one of our strengths as the season unfolds is our ability to control the strike zone, and when you get in those big situations, that's when you've really got to do that and fight the 'I got to get a hit here!'you know. Know you've just got to be ready to play, you've got to be prepared, you've got to have a plan, and then when you go between the lines, you go play. Go play. You go out there, know when you're ready to go, know when you're prepared, and not force a result because that will get you in trouble as a hitter."

YANKEES 4, GUARDIANS 1: On Friday night, the early part of the game belonged to the starters - the Yankees’ Jameson Taillon and  Cleveland’s Eli Morgan - as they each racked up the strikeouts in the first three innings, with Taillon striking out four Guardians and Morgan retiring five Yankees via the K.

Despite that, the Yankees broke through in the third when D.J. LeMahieu walked, and Aaron Judge followed with a home run to right center field into the Yankee bullpen to make it 2-0. 

Cleveland got one of those runs back in the top of the fourth inning when Franmil Reyes launched a solo shot to right field. There was one out when he hit, and they set themselves up for a big inning when Josh Naylor followed with a single and Amed Rosario hit a double to left that Joey Gallo couldn’t corral.

Taillon responded by getting Bobby Bradley to strike out and Bryan Lavastida to fly out to right field.

In the bottom half of the fourth, Josh Donaldson drew a one-out walk, and then with two outs, Gleyber Torres singled, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa got a single of his own to score Donaldson and make it 3-1 Yankees.

The Yankees kept it going in the fifth when Aaron Judge hit his second home run of the night, this one a solo shot to the right field seats, to open up a 4-1 lead. 

That was it for Taillon, who had a solid outing, as he went five innings, allowing one run on seven hits and no walks, with five strikeouts. It was his first win of the season, and he now has a record of 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA.

Michael King was first out of the Yankee bullpen, and he had another superb outing, as he went three innings, striking out eight (meaning all but one of the nine outs he recorded was via the K), allowing no runs on a hit and no walks.

Aroldis Chapman came on for the night, and he worked around a leadoff Naylor double, then retired the next three, including two strikeouts, to earn his fourth save of the season.


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