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Yanks' offense stays in rut; fans 18 times

@SlangsOnSports
April 3, 2019

NEW YORK -- The Yankees struck out 18 times in a 2-1 loss on Wednesday against the Tigers, setting a franchise record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game. "We've got to get better at controlling the strike zone," manager Aaron Boone said after the game. The Yankees have 65 strikeouts

NEW YORK -- The Yankees struck out 18 times in a 2-1 loss on Wednesday against the Tigers, setting a franchise record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game.

"We've got to get better at controlling the strike zone," manager Aaron Boone said after the game.

The Yankees have 65 strikeouts this season.

Thus far, the Yankees' offense has not produced at the level it did in 2018. After a seven-run performance on Opening Day, they've been held to five runs or fewer in each of their last five games, including three or fewer in all but one of those games.

Last year, the Yankees went 31-42 when scoring four or fewer runs and 69-20 when they scored five or more. With the loss, the Yankees fell to 1-3 when scoring four or fewer runs.

The Yankees had a chance to break the game open in the third inning, when DJ LeMahieu doubled with one out and scored on an Aaron Judge single. With two outs and Judge on second, Gleyber Torres laced a ball that would have gone into left-center field, but it clipped Judge’s right foot to end the inning.

Judge singled that moment out postgame as stopping the momentum in its tracks.

"We had [Tigers starter Matthew Boyd] on the ropes there, when I was on second base, and then Gleyber smokes the ball and it's probably going to go in the hole,” said Judge. “I get hit in the foot and we lose the game right there."

Even after that play, the Yankees led 1-0, but Jonathan Loaisiga allowed a run in the top of the fourth and the Yankees couldn't muster another rally against Boyd and the Tigers’ bullpen. Boyd struck out a career-high 13 batters.

"[It's] frustrating that back-to-back days we've been able to grab a lead and the pitching's been real good, but we've got to step it up offensively," Boone said, referring to Wednesday and the Yankees' 3-1 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday, a game they also led 1-0.

Asked about the keys to not trying to do too much offensively and pressing, Brett Gardner offered his opinion.

"Just go out there and be yourself,” said Gardner. “It's easier said than done. … The baseball season is a long season; it's a grind and it can be tough at times. Obviously we're going through a trying time right now, but we've just got to keep our heads up and play better baseball."

The Yankees head to Baltimore in time for the Orioles home opener on Thursday. The Yanks play three games in Baltimore before heading to Houston to face the Astros, a test for this team early in the season.

"We definitely haven't started off this first week how we would have hoped, but it's obviously still very, very early,” said Gardner. "We have a lot of talented guys in this room. We've had to deal with a lot of injuries here early on; it's not ideal, but our depth is going to be tested. I'm confident that we've got the guys to step up and get the job done and play better than we have so far. Disappointed in the way that this homestand went, but really nothing else to do but get back to work tomorrow and look forward to having a good road trip."

Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.