Gleyber Torres stomped down the dugout steps on Sunday afternoon, ripping the glove off his left hand and attacking everything in sight, an impromptu homage to Paul O’Neill’s tirades of years gone by. The third-inning display was wholly appropriate, capturing the frustration of the Yankees’ lost weekend in Detroit.
These three contests against the Tigers were as close to a "gimme" as can be expected, a respite sandwiched inside important series against division rivals. Instead, the Yankees will jet home from the Motor City shaking their heads, dealt a 6-2 loss at Comerica Park that completed a three-game sweep.
“I made two mistakes; in that moment, I didn’t want anybody to say anything to me,” said Torres, who fumbled a pair of grounders during Detroit’s four-run inning. “I know what I did. Mentally, it’s really frustrating for me.
"For sure, I didn’t want to make two errors in the same inning -- especially right now, because we’re playing the way we don’t want to play.”
The Yankees had not been swept in a three-game series at Detroit since May 12-14, 2000, when the Bombers’ star-studded triumvirate of Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Cone was outpitched by C.J. Nitkowski, Jeff Weaver and Dave Mlicki. The ’00 Yankees went on to win a World Series, but if there are any silver linings, manager Aaron Boone wasn’t seeing them.
“This is just a bad ending to a terrible weekend. We’ve got to get better,” Boone said. “As [ticked] off as I am -- and as we should be -- by the way we played, it’s a bad weekend. We need to turn the page. We have an important homestand coming up against some really good opponents.”
There wasn’t much of a pump prime for the seven-game homestand against the Rays and Red Sox. New York’s bats remained largely silent, handcuffed by rookie left-hander Tarik Skubal on three hits over six innings.
The Yankees did manage to bring the tying run to home plate in the ninth inning, when Aaron Judge struck out looking at a Michael Fulmer slider. Outscored 15-5 in the series with 36 strikeouts, the Yanks have lost five of their past six games, scoring two runs or fewer in each loss.
“It’s going to come, but what we’ve been putting out there right now is not our best,” Judge said. “It’s unacceptable. That’s where we just kind of dig down deeper and make some changes. You can’t keep coming to the plate, trying to do the same thing and expecting different results.”
Inserted for a spot start, right-hander Michael King permitted four runs (two earned) over 2 1/3 innings, yielding Nomar Mazara’s two-run double in the first inning. King exited during Detroit’s four-run third, during which the Yanks committed three errors.
Gio Urshela flubbed a broken-bat grounder that prompted the Yankees to call upon Nestor Cortes. The lefty induced a grounder that Torres attempted to backhand for a run-scoring error, and after a walk, Willi Castro cleared the bases with a three-run double. Torres later committed a second error in the inning, flubbing a Jeimer Candelario bouncer, though it did not lead to a run.
“I know it’s part of the game, but those were routine ground balls,” Torres said. “I can do better in that situation. I’m just working hard right now for tomorrow. More games are coming; a lot more ground balls. I’ll just try to feel better and better. It is what it is today, and we paid the price.”
Wrong place, wrong time
Held scoreless through seven innings, the Yankees showed signs of life in the eighth, when Torres stroked a run-scoring single to right field -- snapping a team 0-for-20 with runners in scoring position since its arrival in Motown. They finished the series 2-for-22, but the second hit wasn’t pretty.
Gary Sánchez followed with a hard grounder that rookie shortstop Zack Short bobbled for an infield hit, allowing the second run to score. Short threw wide of first base and Sánchez made the turn toward second base, only to stumble back toward first base before being tagged out to end the inning.
“I tried to be aggressive on that play. It ended up being not a good decision,” Sánchez said through an interpreter. “It’s something that happens. You understand it, and when you face it again, make a better decision.”
Sánchez’s miscue was the Yankees’ Major League-leading 26th out on the bases; the Cubs entered play on Sunday second with 21.
“As frustrated as I am, I’m not going to let a bad weekend cloud what I know this team is capable of,” Boone said. “We need to clean some things up. Not only do we expect more, but we’re capable of more.”