Yankees ready to kiss road trip goodbye after being swept

July 20th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- The enduring snapshot of the Yankees’ awful 1-5 western swing likely transpired at the end of the second inning on Wednesday afternoon, when Carlos Rodón eyed a group of jeering fans behind the first-base dugout and blew a soft kiss toward the seating area at Angel Stadium.

Indeed, signs of the Yankees’ oozing frustration have become evident through this span, during which runs have been difficult to produce and defeats have piled up. Rodón had given up four runs at the time of the sarcastic smooch, and he surrendered a couple more as the Yanks wrapped their road trip with a 7-3 loss to the Angels.

“It was the best reaction I could give,” Rodón said. “But better not to give a reaction, I guess. It was a frustrating outing, that’s for sure, and I showed it there in the second early.”

Rodón said there was no particular comment that prompted the exchange.

“I didn’t really pay mind to what was said,” Rodón said. “A fan was angry, as they should be. I’m angry, too. I was just angry at myself and blew a kiss, unfortunately.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he discussed the incident with Rodón, as well as a later outburst from reliever Tommy Kahnle, who fired his glove and stomped on an oscillating fan in the dugout after surrendering an eighth-inning run.

“I would like him not to do that,” Boone said of Rodón. “Look, he’s frustrated. It’s been tough for him to be out [injured], and then he comes back and had a rough go of it today. He wants to help this team turn it around.

“I think that [kiss] probably prevented him from doing something that he didn’t want to do, which is yell at a fan or yell at somebody.”

In what many expected to be a soft spot in their schedule, the Yankees (50-47) dropped two of three games to the Rockies before being swept at Angel Stadium. They are nine games out of first place in the American League East, and 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.

“We stink right now,” Boone said. “We acknowledge that.”

Taylor Ward and Luis Rengifo hit two-run homers off Rodón, who permitted four hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings, striking out three.

The left-hander, who signed a six-year, $162 million contract over the offseason, owns a 7.36 ERA through three starts. His season debut was delayed until July 7 due to a forearm strain and back tightness.

“I just haven’t really done my job at all,” Rodón said. “But I think if I look at this group, we get punched in the face and we get back on the saddle. Let’s see what happens on Friday. That’s kind of the mindset.”

Giancarlo Stanton hit a sixth-inning homer for the Yankees, snapping an 0-for-15 skid and representing their only run off Angels starter Chase Silseth, who was promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake City and struck out a career-high 10 over 5 2/3 innings. Franchy Cordero also went deep for the Yankees, who have lost 11 of 16 games in July.

“We’re really not showing many signs of life,” said shortstop Anthony Volpe. “We’re not really stringing anything together. It’s obviously frustrating, because we have a great team, great players and a great pitching staff that backs us up and keeps us in it. At the end of the day, we have so many good players in this clubhouse. No one is lacking belief.”

In all, the Yankees struck out 42 times over the series, which represents a new Halos franchise record for any three-game set.

“I think the response is what’s most important,” said outfielder Harrison Bader, who exited early with a left rib contusion but does not expect to miss time. “It’s about showing up on Friday with the right mind-set to kick some [butt] and go from there. You can’t beat a team by 30 runs and have it count for 10 wins and have it erase the 42 strikeouts. You’ve just got to go pitch by pitch.”

The Yankees are 15-22 since June 4, their first game after Aaron Judge’s injury.

“We’re not very good right now. We understand that,” Boone said. “Certainly, this is a low point for us. The silver lining in it all is that it is in front of us. We control that; we understand that.

“We’re not in a good place as a team right now. We’re not playing anywhere near the ball we need to play to put ourselves in a good position at the end of the season, but we are in the fight.”