Torres' homer stands alone vs. Halos

July 19th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- The final out of had scarcely been recorded Tuesday night when Harrison Bader purposefully burst through an exit door in the Angel Stadium visitors’ clubhouse, carrying a bat and still dressed in full uniform. Hitting coach Sean Casey followed, as did Anthony Volpe, clearly intent on finding the hard contact that had eluded the Yankees during the game once again.

It was a few minutes later when manager Aaron Boone gestured toward his team’s vacant lockers, insisting that every answer could still be found in that room. And it wasn’t long before Anthony Rizzo stood before one of those stalls, expressing hope that the preceding 5-1 loss to the Angels represented the low point of the Yankees’ 2023 season.

“It’s hard to have fun when you’re getting your teeth kicked in, individually and as a team,” Rizzo said. “Winning cures everything in this league.”

In the aftermath of the series opener Monday, there had been hearty debate in multiple arenas concerning the strategy behind Boone’s decision to pitch to Shohei Ohtani in a key spot, a choice which resulted in the planet’s hottest hitter belting a game-tying home run. Boone bristled at the criticism, even asking the cluster of reporters in his dugout what choices they would have made.

There were no such arguments on Tuesday evening, a contest that saw the Yankees both out-hit and out-pitched. Patrick Sandoval held the Bombers to just two hits into the eighth inning as the Yankees absorbed their eighth loss in 10 games, an outcome that prompted Boone to offer an all-too-familiar assessment: “We’ve just got to be better, period.”

The issue, of course, is that they haven’t been. They have lost 21 of 36 games since Aaron Judge slammed into a low-lying portion of concrete at Dodger Stadium in early June, falling into last place in the hyper-competitive American League East, 2 1/2 games out of an AL Wild Card spot.

Boone refuses to believe that his current roster won’t produce better results.  

“There’s no quit in it. We’ve got to fight,” Boone said. “We’ve got really good players in there, and a lot of guys that are going through a tough, tough stretch. For some, it’s probably the toughest stretch they’ve been in their career. So you don’t take your ball and go home. You stick your nose in there and you grind it out.”

hit a third-inning homer to notch the Yanks’ only extra-base hit of the evening; they’ve been limited to just two extra-base hits across their last three games.

“We’ve got to find it. Simple as that,” Boone said. “I know that’s a broken record. I know that’s a boring answer. We’ve got to find it. And we’ve got the guys capable of doing it.”

Though Rizzo described the team’s mood as “down,” there have been a few glimmers of hope. Judge is taking batting practice and participating in outfield drills, which represents progress from where he was a couple of weeks ago. Oswald Peraza made an immediate impact by working tough at-bats as the leadoff hitter on Monday, reaching base five times.

And there are the occasional chuckles at the antics of reliever Tommy Kahnle, who spent part of Tuesday’s pregame ridding the clubhouse of flying insects with an electronic zapper. But for the most part, the general demeanor has been as Michael King observed: “It’s not a fun locker room to be in when you’re losing. We’ve got a lot of ground to make up.”

The dearth of offensive thunder frequently challenges pitchers to be near-perfect, a tall order even for one who has been. ’s last start in the state of California yielded a perfect game on June 28 at Oakland; this outing would finish far from it.

Mickey Moniak hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Germán, who allowed five earned runs on four hits in six innings – including a run-scoring Ohtani triple in the fifth, by which time the game felt beyond the visitors’ reach. Their larger goals are still out there, but the sobering reality is that this group’s postseason entry is by no means guaranteed.

“We have to make some adjustments,” Germán said, “and we have to do it with a sense of urgency, because you don’t want it to get too far away from you.”