Even missing what hits coach Dillon Lawson described as “three of our top five hitters,” it’s still jarring to see the Yankees’ lineup off the field in back-to-back games this week, and for the third and fourth time in a 10-day period.
Lawson admits there is “no doubt” that MLS leaders who have scored running goals have missed injured producers Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Carpenter – and in the past few days, DJ LeMahieu – or that other regular players need to pick their absent teammates.
“I think one of our biggest strengths all season has been the depth of the squad,” Lawson said before the problems continued at the team level 3-1 Tuesday’s loss to the rays In the field. “The thing at the moment is even when we have some players missing from the squad, we also have some guys that are in the squad who have performed all year and who are going through their first real slumps since maybe April.
“So when you get it all together, we just have to keep putting our heads down and move on.”
Aaron Hicks has been the obvious culprit for most of the season. He was left out of Tuesday’s lineup – with MVP rider Aaron Judge back in midfield – after an unexpected game Monday night, including grounding for a 1-2-3 double-match with rules loaded in the fourth inning of a 4.0 loss to Tampa Bay.
Lawson added that he believed landings by Josh Donaldson and Jaliber Torres “swing the well” in the Yankees’ final 2-7 run.
Still, Donaldson (1-for-4 Tuesday) is mired in a 3-for-25 game with no additional key strokes or RBIs and 11 strokes since his four-way game on August 8 in Seattle. Torres has hit three hits in the past two games since stopping a 0-22 slip on Monday night. Andrew Benintendi counted and tripled in three runs on Tuesday, but hits a .211 with a .657 OPS in 18 games after a July 27 trade deal from the Royals.
Judge, the MLB home racing captain, is not expected to do everything for a squad that has averaged 2.75 times over the past 12 games — after subtracting 5.4 per game over the first 105 contests.
“Even when things were going well, we always wondered about the process. We were still making changes to what we were going to do,” Lawson said. “We were still training, even when things were going well. Even with the judge, with Stanton, with [Anthony] Rizzo, along with DJs, still coaches them through the great seasons, knowing that if it’s not right when we’re doing well, maybe it’s not right when we’re down.”
Lawson added that this mentality “turns into panic or second guesswork,” so he and manager Aaron Boone have consistently called out that the Yankees “can’t be satisfied with the fact that we’ve won games.”
“Is it a good baseball game? Is it a good process?” Lawson said, “For us now, it gives us comfort in going through this, knowing the process is good.” “It allowed us to play at a high level before. It is constantly adapting, not to say that we are blind to any new changes. There is always a healthy feeling of insecurity or paranoia, “Are we good enough?”
“We have to keep improving. Keep moving away and taking steps forward, even though we think we have the best attack in baseball.”
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