Brett Gardner squinted into a glowing computer screen on Sunday morning and characterized the inconsistency of the season as “a couple of steps forward, a couple of steps back.” That description outlines the uphill predicament that the Yankees face: after 65 games of wheel-spinning, they have hardly moved.
Domingo Germán was hammered for seven runs over 4 1/3 innings and the bats were held silent in a 7-0 loss to the Phillies on Sunday afternoon, completing a sweep of a two-game weekend Interleague series. As Gardner said, there is quite a bit of season remaining, but each loss “is a wasted opportunity.”
“I feel like everything was bad today,” Germán said through an interpreter. “I didn’t have the control and command that I usually have with my curveball and changeup -- and that includes the fastball. So you can sum up this day as a tough day for me.”
At 33-32, the Yankees have lost seven of nine and are off to their slowest 65-game start since 2016 -- current Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi’s penultimate season filling out the Bombers’ lineup cards, when they finished with 84 victories and failed to qualify for postseason play.
Here in the Aaron Boone era, New York was shut out for the third time this season, falling 8 1/2 games behind the American League East-leading Rays. Boone acknowledged that he is “very concerned” by the Yankees’ fourth-place position in the division.
“We’re going to find out what kind of character we’re made of,” Boone said. “We’re clearly in the midst of incredibly tough times. We’ve faced it throughout this season. We’re going to find out what we’re made of, if we’re the team we think we are. It gets no easier.”
With a showdown against the thunderous Blue Jays (33-30) on deck, Boone bristled when asked if he senses complacency or fatigue among his players as the losses pile.
“No. I know them too well,” Boone said. “I don’t think there’s any getting used to freaking losing. Hell no. Get the hell out of here with that.”
A ‘grind’ for Germán
One day after Jameson Taillon couldn’t escape the first inning, the Phillies struck early and often against Germán, who has otherwise been one of the club’s most reliable starters.
“I didn’t think [Germán] had great feel with his secondary pitches, which are usually such a bread and butter for him,” Boone said. “Probably not the greatest command with his heater, missing out over the plate a bunch. He got hurt with some two-strike hits. It was a grind for him.”
J.T. Realmuto knocked in a first-inning run with a single and the Phils tacked on three in the second, powered by Odúbel Herrera’s RBI double and a Jean Segura two-run single -- both with two outs.
“During the season, you’re going to have ups and downs,” Germán said. “Right now, we’re going through a tough time. Really, the one thing we can do is focus on our work and our preparation, understanding we do have a lot of games ahead of us. We need to make the necessary adjustments.”
With Phillies starter Aaron Nola cruising -- limiting an Aaron Judge-less Yankees lineup to a pair of DJ LeMahieu singles through the first six innings -- Segura tripled and scored on a Realmuto hit and Andrew McCutchen greeted Wandy Peralta with a two-run double to break the game open in the fifth.
“We obviously know we’re not playing good on a consistent basis,” said Lucas Luetge, who pitched two scoreless innings. “Some days, we look great. Other days we look terrible. Everybody’s got to look in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better to help this team improve?’”
All about fundamentals
The Yankees have run into the most outs on the basepaths of any Major League team, seeing Rougned Odor tagged out for their 31st of the year in the seventh inning. Entering play on Sunday, no other team had more than 23 and the league average was 18.
After Odor's leadoff double, the Yanks’ third and final hit off Nola, the infielder was erased while breaking for third base on a Gio Urshela ground ball to short.
“Very frustrating,” Boone said. “We’ll practice it and examine the mechanics of it. I think he was a little aggressive in his secondary lead and got into a little bit of a no-return place. Those are things we’ve got to continue to instruct and teach.”