NEW YORK -- There was a closed-door meeting recently in which Aaron Boone was quizzed by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman, a session that prompted the Yankees manager to describe his front office’s mindset as being “frustrated” by the club’s performance.
For a team whose annual mission statement demands a championship-caliber product, results have fallen well short of expectations, and time has nearly run out to fix their myriad issues. While Boone promises that his team is “definitely not giving up,” the Yankees lost their eighth consecutive game on Sunday afternoon, falling to the Red Sox, 6-5.
“I don’t think anyone is OK or anything close to that with how we’ve been playing and the results,” said shortstop Anthony Volpe. “Regardless of if anyone’s been through it before, I feel like everyone is pretty pissed.”
As the Yankees sit mired in their longest skid since August 1995, when Batman Forever and Apollo 13 were the top movies at the box office, the franchise’s 30-season streak of winning records sits in serious jeopardy. Nine games out of the AL Wild Card chase, their chances of qualifying for postseason play are nearly dark.
“We’ve got to be unbelievable the rest of the way, so it’s not even about that,” Boone said. “It’s about coming and trying to win a game Tuesday. Then all of a sudden, you start stacking, and then an amazing thing happens. But we’re so far removed from that right now. We’ve got to get a win first.”
Boston defeated the Yanks for the eighth time in nine tries this season, moving ahead on Justin Turner’s ninth-inning go-ahead double off Clay Holmes.
That came after the Yankees were denied what would have been their first lead of the series in the eighth, when Isiah Kiner-Falefa was tagged out on a call overturned by replay. Kiner-Falefa said that he believed catcher Connor Wong was illegally blocking the plate; the umpires did not agree.
“I didn’t feel like I had a lane [to slide],” Kiner-Falefa said. “The ball did beat me, but I didn’t feel like they had enough to overturn it. Who knows? I’m just playing the game hard. It didn’t go our way.”
Turner hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off Michael King in the seventh after Clarke Schmidt held Boston to two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Kyle Higashioka and Gleyber Torres lifted solo homers for the Yanks, who have not led since the second inning on Monday in Atlanta.
“Getting swept by these guys is definitely tough,” Kiner-Falefa said. “Every day, we’ve got to show up and do our job; just find ways to get better and whatever happens, happens. But this can’t be happening.”
Added Schmidt: “It’s been a grind recently. We understand that. We understand that this is also baseball, and we can pull ourselves out of it. Every time we go out there, we have the ball in our hands. It’s not like we don’t have an opportunity to win.”
In June, Steinbrenner said he intended “to be asking some tough questions” if the Yankees did not qualify for the playoffs.
Steinbrenner has likely been taking notes over the past few weeks, especially since the Trade Deadline, when Cashman declared that his team was “in it to win it.” Boone said he meets “fairly regularly” with Steinbrenner, and speaks daily with Cashman.
“We’re in a big hole, but you can’t even get big-picture about it,” Boone said. “You’ve just got to tackle the next day. That’s what we’re in right now, where we’re really scuffling. We played a tight ballgame today where guys did some good things to get some big hits. It’s one step at a time. We’ve got to go on a run.”
With Boone having pushed seemingly every button at his disposal thus far, it seems that any remaining answers to rectify the slide are not in the clubhouse.
Boone said there could be promotions from the Minors before Sept. 1. Outfielder Everson Pereira, the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, hit two homers Saturday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Infielder Oswald Peraza and catcher Austin Wells are also among the prospects vying for callups; Wells homered twice for the RailRiders on Sunday, including a grand slam.
“I think,” Boone said, “anything’s on the table right now.”