Saturday, August 19, 2023

With Final Forty To Go, Boone Says Yanks "Haven’t put ourselves in any position, or given a thought, why we would get back into it"


Gerrit Cole pitching to Boston's Pablo Reyes in the second inning on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Jason Schott.

Saturday marked the start of the final forty games of the Yankees’ season, and they entered this benchmark with an underwhelming record of 60-62, seven games out of the final Wild Card spot.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone started his pregame press conference, ahead of the second game of their series with the Boston Red Sox, with this, “I had a talk with the team last night, but you know I try and keep consistent in what we do and how we prepare.

“Look forward to today being the day you start turning things around, and that’s how you’ve got to look at it.”

On the message he has for his team, Boone said, “Acknowledge what we’re going through, making sure that we’re controlling how we come in each and every day and how we prepare and also remembering to make sure, don’t lose sight of the fact why you started playing this game, either, and that’s because it’s fun and you’re probably pretty good at it. Don’t lose sight of that, especially when it’s hard and different guys are feeling it in different ways. You know, come in with that edge and that little chip on your shoulder and ready to prepare and work, but when it comes time to play, go out there and have fun playing the game.”

Boone was asked if he realizes the Yankees’ plight could be far worse, and he said, “No question, no question, and look, when I say that, you know we’ve got 40 games left and there’s not just, you know, occasionally, there’s a lot of examples, a lot of recent examples even, of teams turning it around. 

“Now, I also recognize we haven’t put ourselves in any kind of position, or certainly given anyone a thought, like, why we would get back into it, but neither have those teams when they made their runs or when they got hot.

“The reality is we still have a chance, we’ve got to try and prepare and compete everyday with the mind that today’s the day we turn it around, and, but, it’s not even about down the road what we have to do, it’s like, today, come and put our best foot forward and expect today’s the day we get something going.”

With the Yankees' ace Gerrit Cole on the mound, Boone was probably confident his words would be prophetic, but with all things around the Yankees, they couldn't even count on that.

In the first inning, Cole allowed a rocket back up the box from Rafael Devers that eluded him and bounced high off the glove of shortstop Anthony Volpe, then Justin Turner just missed a two-run home run, as he took right fielder Aaron Judge back to the fence. Masataka Yoshida then also flew out to Judge to end the frame.

Boston went to work against Cole in the second, as Adam Duvall singled to left field, Jarren Duran also singled, and Pablo Reyes worked out a walk to load the bases with nobody out.

Connor Wong then bounced into a force out, and with the number-nine hitter in the Boston lineup due up, it seemed like Cole might get out of it.

Luis Urias had other ideas, as he crushed one into the Red Sox bullpen in left center field for a grand slam to give Boston a 4-0 lead. This was just his second homer of the season for the second baseman, and gave him nine RBI on the season.

Luis Urias about to touch the plate after rounding the bases on his grand slam, as his teammates wait to greet him. Photo by Jason Schott.

Alex Verdugo then struck out, but Devers hit another rocket for a single before Turner took one to deep right again, and this time, Judge had to leap up and grab it for the third out.

Cole then retired the Sox in order in the third, while notching two strikeouts, but Boston got it going in the fourth.

Reyes led off with a single and stole second base before Wong, the number-eight hitter in their lineup, blasted one to right field for a two-run homer and expanded Boston's lead to 6-0.

Cole retired the next three to get out of the fourth, and he would exit after that frame. His final line was: 4 innings, 7 hits, 6 runs (all earned), 1 walk, 4 strikeouts.

This was Cole's shortest start of the season, and in his starts against Boston, the last time they knocked him out early was on Opening Day of the 2022 season, when he lasted four innings in an eventual 6-5 Yankees win in 11 innings. The six runs he allowed tied a season-high, as he also allowed six against Tampa Bay on May 7 and San Diego on May 28.

Boone, in his postgame press conference, said of what he saw in Cole's first few innings, "Just long at-bats, you know, they were able to spoil a lot of pitches, outlasted him a little bit. Soft field out there, (center fielder) Harrison (Bader) slipped on the one ball (Jarren Duran single with one out in second inning) that kind of prolonged that one (inning) and set up the big home run, so you know, just not quite his day."

Meanwhile, Boston's starting pitcher, Kutter Crawford took a no-hitter until there was one out in the sixth inning, and that was broken up by an Aaron Judge solo home run to left-center field. That was his 24th homer of the season.

Crawford left after the sixth, so that was the only run and hit he allowed, along with two walks and a hit-batsman, and he struck out five.

Kutter Crawford pitching to Anthony Volpe in the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.


Boston added to their lead in the eighth when Albert Abreu was on for the Yankees, as Yoshida singled and came in to score on a double Reyes hit into the left field corner. Devers put it away with a solo homer to center field, his 28th of the season, also off Abreu, and that made it 8-1, which would be the final.

Crawford got the win, as he improved to 6-6 on the season, with a 3.66 ERA (earned run average). 

Cole took the loss, and he fell to 10-4, and his ERA jumped to 3.03 from 2.76. Cole had five wins by April 27 when he had a record of 5-1, and since then, he has won five other games, lost four, and has an astonishing 11 no-decisions - astonishing because of how he has pitched at a Cy Young Award-level all season.

Boone was asked if Cole is affected by the lack of run support he has been getting, and he said, "I don't know, I mean, I think Gerrit's, you know, so focused every single day on getting ready for that, for his start and knowing what he's got to do to be successful, but I think you ask any pitcher, and obviously you want to get that run support, but he's out there to go be our ace and try to go dominate the opponent."

The Yankees have now lost seven in a row, which has left them with a record of 60-63, five games behind the Red Sox, who improved to 65-58, who are also on the outside looking in of a Wild Card spot, but have certainly exceeded expectations.

The Yankees' next four games are at home, as after the series finale with Boston on Sunday, they then welcome the Washington Nationals for a three-game set Tuesday through Thursday. That will leave them with 35 games left, 23 of which will be on the road.

Boone said in his postgame press conference, when asked about his comments before the game on feeling a turnaround is imminent, "I mean, you're going to keep asking, because that's what we do. We have no other choice - I don't not think a turnaround's coming, so we're just going to get to work, and I know it's a boring answer for you guys, but we've got to try and come win a ballgame tomorrow, and expect when we walk in those doors, today's the day. That's how we look at it, that's what we are, we're sick animals in a lot of ways, right. 

"It's the grind of the sport, we've got to come ready to go tomorrow and fight our way through this, and through this, you reveal, you know, you find about about people, and you get your character revealed, and you've got to keep showing up and when you're taking your lumps and and it's not easy, that's what we continue to do, and we'll continue to expect a turnaround."

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